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Thomasian youth groups reaffirm TOFI stand

STUDENTS from several colleges and faculties of the University marched in opposition to the proposed five to eight percent tuition hike in a unity walk Friday.

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STUDENTS from several colleges and faculties of the University marched in opposition to the proposed five to eight percent tuition hike in a unity walk Friday.

Taun-taon na lang po nagtataas ng matrikula ang Unibersidad ng Santo Tomas,” said Bastin Adrias, member of the Students’ Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UST (STAND-UST).

Fees increased by 2.5% last academic year, while it increased by 3.5% in 2012. This year’s proposed increase would be the highest since 2012.

The Central Board of Students have aired their opposition to the proposed increase, saying in a statement released online on Feb. 28 that any increase in fees is exorbitant.

While firm in their objection on the increase, the Central Student Council (CSC) released a statement, Friday, expressing disapproval of the unity walk.

“The University of Santo Tomas and its administrators need not to be approached in this way. We are Thomasians. We are educated of due process,” the statement read.

The CSC also belied their involvement in orchestrating the walk along with militant student groups STAND-UST, League of Filipino Students – UST (LFS-UST), and Rise for Education – UST (RISE-UST), all of which are not recognized organizations by the Office of Student Affairs.

“The UST-CSC is strongly against any left-leaning groups who take advantage of the tuition and other fees increase issue,” the statement read further.

CSC President Ina Marie Vergara said that while the CSC felt disrespected that they were tagged as the ones spearheading the walk, they respect the protestors’ right to free expression.

Vergara also said there are better avenues for expressing sentiments, ideas, and opinions, saying that the administration is open for further clarifications.

“They (the administrators) don’t deserve to be rattled in such way. We can do it in a more appropriate manner,” Vergara said, adding that the students who participated in the walk could face disciplinary sanctions as it allegedly did not follow University protocol on student-organized events.

A similar unity walk and candle lighting activity was organized by the CSC last Oct. 2014 in lieu of the Students’ Rights and Welfare Week.

Uziel Guthrie Naguit of STAND-UST said it is the duty of the student councils to stand on the side of Thomasians.

Sila po bilang student council, sila ang responsable. Sila ang responsible sa kapwa nating mga Tomasino. Sila dapat ang manindigan na hindi dapat patuloy na tumataas ang tuition ng mga estudyante,” said Naguit.

Photo by Joshua Lugti

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Human Rights Week in UST opens with forum

The UST Simbahayan Community Development Office hosted a forum on human rights today, September 16, 2019 as part of its Francisco De Vitoria Human Rights Week.

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Photo by John Aaron Pangilinan

The UST Simbahayan Community Development Office hosted a forum on human rights today, September 16, 2019 as part of its Francisco De Vitoria Human Rights Week.

Francisco De Vitoria is a Dominican priest known for instituting an international human rights law and a defender of the rights of native Americans.

The University’s Vice Rector for Religious Affairs Rev. Fr. Pablo Tiong O.P. introduced Francisco De Vitoria to open the said forum, highlighting the life of Vitoria and his contributions to the mative people of the Americas.

“Kung may karapatan, may katungkulan at ang nangunguna ay ang katungkulan natin sa Diyos. Lahat ng karapatang-pantao ay bigay ng Diyos. God is the fundamental reason for our human rights,” said Tiong.

Human rights under Duterte 

Prof. Nymia Simbulan, Ph.D. discussed the current human rights crisis under the administration of President Duterte 

“When we speak of rights, this would deal primarily with the relationship between the state and ordinary citizens. It does not deal with the relationship between two or more ordinary citizens. Human rights refer to the minimum standards on how the state would treat the people when it comes to civil, political, social, cultural and economical aspects of life,” according to Simbulan.

“When we speak of human rights violations, we deal with state perpetrated actions against ordinary citizens. ‘Pag ang isang tao napatay ang kanyang kapitbahay, hindi po ito itinuturing na paglabag sa karapatang-pantao. Those are crimes dealing with ordinary persons. […] Kung kailan hatinggabi ang mga tao natutulog tsaka papasok ang demolition team, that is a violation of human rights. When the people were thrown in an area outside Manila without electricity, education, then that would be a violation of human rights,” she said.

She reiterated how the current administration “bastardized” human rights in the country, and how the president serves today as a “big threat” to human rights. 

“The moment he [Duterte] assumed his position as the highest leader of the land, mapapansin natin naging bukam-bibig niya ang karapatang-pantao. How he [sees] human rights is something distorted, demonized, bastardized. […] President Duterte is the biggest threat to human rights since martial law,” said Simbulan

Simbula asserted that the administration’s war on drugs strongly shows the degradation of the respect for human rights in the country and how the war on drugs became a war on the poor.

Culture of impunity and democratic decay

“There is a culture of impunity. […] Ang lahat ng napapatay ay mga ordinaryong mamamayan. […] Some say that the war on drugs is a war on the poor. […] Whenever there are killings reported by the mass media, there are no protests, there are no demonstrations, which is very dangerous. Nagiging kampante na tayo. Normal na lamang sa ating lipunan” she added.

Simbulan also noted the democratic decay in the country because of the current policies and measures of the current administration and how bills and “kill policies” supporting war on drugs were prioritized.

“There is a democratic decay, undermining the checks and balances in the government. […] In the last Congress, there is a supermajority. So when it comes to political agenda, there would be no much debates. The priority bills on the war on drugs of the President were easily passed,” said Simbulan.

She also noted the vilification cruel treatment on human rights defenders.

“If you are involved in the drug war, you deserve to be treated with cruelty. If you are individuals affiliated with human rights NGOs, or human rights defenders, these individuals are labeled as enemies of the state,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mark Louis Siapno, Head of Strategic Division of Commission on Human Rights (CHR) talked about how CHR’s role and mandate in the protection of human rights, noting how human rights became too political instead of being universal.

“While you have your human rights, there are people in charge of your human rights. […] From a universal concept, ang human rights nagiging political concept when in fact, you have your own human rights. Ang human rights ay hindi na pinag-uusapan sa tamang perspektibo. Hindi na pinag-uusapan nang para sa lahat,” said Siapno. 

“Human rights also points to obligations. May katuwang na obligasyon at karapatan. […] For as long as it respects other person’s beliefs, you cannot put blanket restrictions as it will violate peoples’ rights. For as long as they are human, the state has obligations to respect rights,” he added.

Siapno also asserted the importance of human rights especially to the poor: “Those who have less in life should have more in law. The CHR serves as mechanism para pantayin ang lahat in the eyes of the law,” said Siapno.

The Francisco De Vitoria Human Rights Week will feature an exhibit and film viewing, and will have another forum on martial law on its last day on September 20, 2019.

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UST ranks third in September 2019 Librarian boards

The University was named third top performing school in the September 2019 Librarian licensure exams released today, September 16, 2019, while a lone Thomasian made it to the topnotchers.

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The University was named third top performing school in the September 2019 Librarian licensure exams released today, September 16, 2019, while a lone Thomasian made it to the topnotchers.

Allyana Bermudez, the lone Thomasian who made it to the topnotchers placed second in the said exam.

Meanwhile, Daniel Balbin Jr. from Benguet State University ranked first in the said exam.

The University garnered a 90.32% passing rate while the top performing school University of the Philippines – Diliman got a perfect passing rate. Benguet State University placed second having a 91.18% passing rate.

A total of 565 out of 1,024, or 55.18% passed the exam higher than last year’s 49% passing rate.

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UST lands third in 2019 Electrical Eng’g boards

The University ranked third in the August and September 2019 licensure examinations for Electrical Engineers while a lone Thomasian landed on the topnotchers.

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The University ranked third in the August and September 2019 licensure examinations for Electrical Engineers while a lone Thomasian landed on the topnotchers.

Derrick Munar Ramos, the lone Thomasian who made it to the roster of top ten highest scorers, took the third spot.

According to the results released by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), the University yielded a 97.92 percent passing rate, with 94 out of 96 examinees making the cut. 

This is a drop of 2.08 percent from last year’s 100 percent.

Meanwhile, Mikhael Glen Borja Lataza of University of San Carlos claimed the top spot.

Camarines Norte State Colleges – Daet also took the third spot in the top performing schools, while University of Batangas and University of the Philippines – Diliman took the top spot.

This year’s national passing rate of 67.16 percent (1,606 out of 4,891) saw an improvement of .42 percent from the previous year’s performance of 66.74 (1,562 out of 4,697) percent.

The University, however, retained its 100 percent passing rate for the Master Electrician examinations as its lone bet managed to ace the test. 

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