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Thomasian publications, media groups condemn attacks on press freedom

Student publications and media organizations of the University joined the calls to defend press freedom in the midst of the government’s ‘attacks’ on journalists and the media.

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Several publications and media organizations of the University lambasted the government’s “attacks on press freedom” in a statement on Thursday, following the ban of a Rappler reporter from Malacañang.

“We, student publications, writers and media organizations of the University of Santo Tomas, strongly manifest our unity with other media organizations in condemning the Duterte administration’s efforts to stifle press freedom in the country,” the statement titled “Uphold the truth! Defend press freedom!” read.

It added: “In these crucial times when our freedoms are being attacked and threatened, we, campus journalists, writers, and media practitioners, must stand and fight to defend our rights.”

Rappler reporter and Malacañang Press Corps (MPC) member Pia Ranada was prevented from entering the New Executive Building in Malacañang on Tuesday morning, Feb. 20. A day after, Ranada said she was informed by Malacañang that she could no longer enter the entire palace complex.

In a press conference, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque revealed that it was President Rodrigo Duterte himself who ordered his officials to ban Ranada and Rappler from covering his events in the Malacañang.

Nonetheless, the MPC stated that Ranada would remain a member unless the Court of Appeals upholds the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ruling on Rappler’s registration.

Last month, the SEC revoked Rappler’s certificate of registration, sparking protests from various media groups, militant organizations, and politicians (READ: Media groups protest attacks on press freedom).

The groups, moreover, expressed concern over the President’s “repeated” disregard for the law.

“It is alarming that President Rodrigo Duterte himself—who has repeatedly shown contempt for human rights, rule of law, and checks and balances—is now going after the free press to silence and intimidate critics of his administration,” the document stated.

In his second State of the Nation Address, the President also attacked other major media outfits such as the Philippine Daily Inquirer and ABS-CBN, accusing them of being biased in their reports about him. The statement also cited the blocking of the license renewal of the 54 radio stations of the Catholic Media Network, which is owned by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

Meanwhile, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders declared the country the deadliest country in Asia for journalists, with a record of four journalists killed last year.

Other reported killings of journalists were also recorded by local media groups such as the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism in the first 16 months of the Duterte administration, including death threats from local officials and pro-administration bloggers.

The statement also condemned threats on campus publications, particularly the military surveillance and red-tagging of campus journalists in Bicol, and Mocha Uson’s tirades on Ateneo de Manila University’s Matanglawin after it lampooned Uson’s blog in 2016.

Furthermore, the groups stated that they “will continue to serve the people and stand for freedom, democracy, and most importantly, veritas: The truth.”

The signatories of the statement include Amierielle Anne Bulan, editor-in-chief of The Varsitarian; Philip Jamilla, executive editor of TomasinoWeb; Noelle Aetana Malagkit, chief communications officer of the Tomasian Media Circle and Talents; Joshua Carl Palomera, president of the Thomasian Writers Guild; Mikkah Factor, editor-in-chief of The Flame; Mary Joy Abalos, editor-in-chief of La Stampa Tomasino; Ristel Mae Tagudando, editor-in-chief of The Purple Gazette; Patricia Lee Yanga, president of the UST Journalism Society; and Neal Andreu Tayco, president of the UST Literary Society.

University officials have not expressed their stand regarding the matter as of press time.—M. G. Parlade

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Thomasians join protest vs tyranny, ‘de facto’ Martial Law

Several Thomasian progressive youth groups trooped to Luneta for the United People’s Action that condemned the current administration’s implementation of “de facto” Martial Law in the country, Friday, Sept. 21.

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martial law anniversary protesters
Photo by Christine Tapawan/TomasinoWeb.

For the commemoration of the 46th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, several Thomasian progressive youth groups trooped to Luneta for the United People’s Action that condemned the current administration’s implementation of “de facto” Martial Law in the country, Friday, Sept. 21.

Thomasians lambasted President Rodrigo Duterte’s policies that “curtail and repress the democracy of the Filipino people.”

Anakbayan UST SHS spokesperson Ronel Reyes said that the dooms of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos are being felt under Duterte’s presidency.

“Mariin nating kinokondena ang “de facto” Martial Law na ipinatutupad ni Pangulong Duterte na wala ring pinagkaiba sa ginugunita natin ngayon, ang anibersaryo ng Martial Law ng diktador na si [Ferdinand] Marcos,” Reyes said in a chance interview with TomasinoWeb.

He also added, “masasabi nating may de facto Martial Law kasi ang mga nangyayari ngayon sa’ting bansa ay katulad din sa nangyayari dati.”

Reyes stressed that the Thomasian community’s participation is important as it’s a way to fight for the rights of fellow Filipinos.

“Mahalaga po [ang partisipasyong ng mga Tomasino] dahil tayo ay hindi dapat nakukulong sa apat na sulok ng paaralan, dapat tayong makiisa sa laban ng mga Pilipino; hindi tayo hiwalay. Pinagsasamantalahan tayo ng parehong sistema,” Reyes said.

‘Never Again to Martial Law’

Unfazed by the sudden downpour of rain, the protest still pushed through at around 2 pm. and converged with other different organizations from the University of the Philippines, Far Eastern University, De La Salle University, among others.

Chanting “Never Again to Martial Law,” the students were joined by other activist groups from different sectors and then marched to Luneta for the activities and programs prepared.

Also present in the protest were Lumads that recently visited and held “Bakwit School” in the University last Sept. 10.

READ: UST welcomes, pledges support for Lumads

On the other hand, “Pro-Duterte” groups also staged “counter-protest” at Burnham Green in Rizal Park carrying placards of praise of the administrations programs and policies.

Under the Proclamation 1081, Marcos enacted Martial Law that led to the killings and imprisonment of more than 70,000 people, according to Amnesty International.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) deployed more than 4000 cops around the area for the said event.

Meanwhile, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada suspended classes in all levels, both public and private, citing safety and security reasons for the students.

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UST welcomes, pledges support for Lumads

The Thomasian community along with other progressive youth groups welcomed Lumads as they trooped to the University to voice out their call to end Martial Law in Mindanao, assuring them of support as “Bakwit School sa UST” commenced, Monday, Sept. 10.

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thomasians protesting for lumads
Photo by Jude Camot/TomasinoWeb.

The Thomasian community along with other progressive youth groups welcomed indigenous peoples as they trooped to the University to voice out their call to end Martial Law in Mindanao, assuring them of support as “Bakwit School sa UST” commenced, Monday, Sept. 10.

UST Simbahayan Director Mark Anthony Abenir addressed the cultural minorities and said that UST “as a Catholic institution stands by the poor and the oppressed.”

“Ang UST bilang Katolikong pamantasan patuloy na naninindigan sa kapakanan ng mga mahihirap, ng mga naaapi at ng mga pinagsasamantalahan,” Abenir said as he welcomed Lumads for the second year of Lakbayan.

Despite the heavy downpour of rain, the “Salubungan” activity still pushed through with Lumads and Thomasians entering the Arch of the Centuries.

Meanwhile, UST Central Student Council (CSC) Secretary Robert Gonzales expressed support in ending Martial Law in Mindanao and assured the Lumads of the Thomasians’ continued assistance in rebuilding classrooms and other material support.

“Nakikiisa rin ang mga Tomasino upang ipaglaban at itaguyod ang paglaban natin para sa edukasyon. Tutulong kami sa abot ng aming makakaya upang itaguyod ang Lumad bakwit schools,” Gonzales said.

The UST CSC Secretary also added, “ipagpapatuloy namin ang pagsuporta sa mga paaralan ng mga Lumad sa pagpapatayong muli sa mga silid-aralan at iba pang suportang materyal. Ang paaralan ninyo ay paaralan rin namin.”

Moreover, cultural presentations were conducted including a performance by Tubaw, a reenactment by the Lumad students and a community dance together with Thomasians.

‘Buksan ang puso’t isipan’

Manilyn Gantangan, a grade 10 Lumad student, challenged Thomasians “to open their hearts and minds in what’s really happening in the society.”

“Hinahamon ko po ang lahat ng mga nakikinig na buksan po natin ang ating puso’t isipan at alamin natin ang totoong nangyayari sa ating lipunan,” Gantangan said.

Sr. Patricia Fox was also present and urged Thomasians to “hear what’s happening and listen to their story.”

“I think one of the problems is people are not hearing really about what’s happening there. So I think it’s great that the Thomasian community has accepted them, to listen to them and then get their stories out to others so that people know what’s happening,” Sr. Fox said in a chance interview with TomasinoWeb.

She also added that Lumads deserve “to live in peace and have a good education.”

“Well, I think they’ve got a just demand. Every young person should have a right to education. They have a right to be there to live in peace, to have a good education.” Sr. Fox said.

UST Save Our Schools (SOS) Networks volunteer Hannah Rondilla gave a solidarity message and asked the Thomasian community to heed the call to fight land-grabbing of ancestral lands.

“Makiiisa rin sana ang mga Tomasino upang tutulan ang pangangamkam sa mga lupaing ninuno at ipaglaban ang karapatan ng pambansang minorya para sa sariling pagpapasya,” Rondilla urged.

The said event will continue until September 17 in which various activities including Unity Walk, a peace forum and a grand solidarity night are expected to happen.

Last April 20, UST Simbahayan inked a partnership with alternative school for the Lumad as they commit to defend education and for the rehabilitation of school facilities.

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UST boosts performance in guidance counselor board exam

The University recorded a perfect passing rate in the August 2018 guidance counselor licensure examination.

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Photo by Jester Ramos/TomasinoWeb.

The University recorded a perfect passing rate in the August 2018 guidance counselor licensure examination.

UST improved to a 100-percent passing mark, with all four Thomasian examinees passed.

Last year, no Thomasian made it to the cut.

No Thomasian, meanwhile, made it to the top ten for this year’s licensure exam.

According to the Professional Regulation Commission, 307 out of 471 takers passed the board exam for guidance counselors. Rex Morales

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