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Thomasians demand for passage of students’ code in First Day Fight

The protest condemned the “yearly” tuition increase and demanded for the passage of the long-delayed students’ code of rights of the University.

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Photo by Arden Esmile/TomasinoWeb

Progressive students from the University held their “First Day Fight” protest to kick-off the first day of classes for the second semester at UST Gate 2 Monday, Jan. 20, 2020.

The protest condemned the “yearly” tuition increase and demanded for the passage of the long-delayed students’ code of rights of the University.

In an interview with TomasinoWeb, Karch Rafael of Kabataan Partylist-UST expressed his concern over the passage of the students’ code which might start again from the very beginning after the change in the University’s rector.

“Ngayon ang [gusto nating tutukan] ay tuition increase nanaman tsaka ‘yung democratic rights na patuloy na inaapakan, na sinusupil ng estado natin tsaka ng administrasyon ng UST.

“Gusto nating mabuo ‘yung students’ demand at maipasa na ‘yung students’ code [ngayong] taon na mahigit 16 to 17 years na siyang nakabinbin. Napalitan nanaman ang rector, ibig sabihin nito mataas ‘yung posibilidad na bumalik siya from square one,” Rafael said.

“Dahil sino ba dapat ‘yung primaryang nakikinabang sa kung anong ibinibigay ng isang paaralan. Siyempre ang estudyante, estudyanteng parte ng kabataan at magiging pag-asa ng bagong henerasyon,” Rafael added.

Students also criticized the budget cuts on the country’s calamity fund and government’s response on the Taal Eruption.

“Tinututulan natin yun [budger cut]. Nung nakipag-usap naman ako [na] nabiktima din nung kalamidad ay malaki yung inaasahan nila na tulong mula sa gobyerno natin sapagkat alam nila na yung gobyerno dapat natin ‘yung primaryang tumutulong sa mga mamamayan sa panahon ng pangangailangan,” he said.

Rafael also expressed his anger towards Duterte administraton and its policies, “Habang tumatagal si Duterte sa bulok niyang palasyo, lalong tumitindi yung pag-atake sa mga mamamayan”, he added.

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Trisha Ifurung of League of Filipino Students-UST also said that the protest also aims to look back on what has been done from the previous semester and continuing to fight for the students’ and the people’s rights that are being neglected by the administration.

“Panibagong taon nanaman pero yung mga problema na nararanasan ng mga mamamayan ay patuloy pa din,” she said.

The students also called for the junking of the mandatory ROTC for senior high school students and the K-12 program which is about to undergo a public review by the House of Representatives. R. Velasco with reports from J. A. Pangilinan

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Martial law victims slam Marcos day

Martial Law victims condemned the approval of House Bill No. 7137 bill declaring Sept. 11 a non-working holiday in Ilocos Norte to commemorate the birth of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. 

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Martial Law victims condemned the approval of House Bill No. 7137 bill declaring Sept. 11 a non-working holiday in Ilocos Norte to commemorate the birth of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. 

Bantayog ng mga Bayani Executive Director Ma. Cristina Rodriguez said that it is “harmful to the country’s history” as it could generate misleading facts that can confuse younger generations. 

“Kapag hinayaan mo ang probinsya niya na i-honor parin siya, ang harm niyan hindi lang sa probinsya niya kung hindi sa buong bansa,” Rodriguez said. 

According to Rodriguez, the Marcoses should be held accountable for the youth to understand the atrocities during Martial Law. 

She stressed that Ilocos Norte should instead “be ashamed” as they “fully benefited” from Marcos, while Mindanao was bombed and Cagayan Valley and Samar’s forest were industrially logged. 

“Sa totoo lang ang dapat maging attitude ng mga taga-Ilocos Norte ay bumawi naman kayo. ‘Wag niyo nang igasgas sa sugat ang asin,” Rodriguez said. 

Rodriguez also said that the national government should not acknowledge the bill to “hold a moral position” on the abuses inflicted by the Marcoses. 

“Yung mga nakinabang sa Martial Law at sa panahon ni Marcos gusto nila ‘yan. Dapat yung ating pagsusulat ng kasaysayan at pagtuturo ng kasaysayan ay tama,” Martial Law political prisoner Cris Palabay said. 

Palabay urged the youth not to forget the atrocities during the Martial Law. 

“Huwag po tayong matakot, lagi ko nga po sinasabi yung culture of fear, culture of silence, dapat yan ay labanan, tiyak yan, mas maraming magagandang mangyayari,” Palabay said. 

The webinar, “Francisco de Vitoria: Linggo ng Karapatang Pantao – Talakayang Batas Militar” was organized by UST SIMBAHAYAN Community Development Office to shed light on the abuse of human rights amid the pandemic. Cherizza Mae Bautista

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Filipino environmental advocates demand for ‘better normal’

Filipino youth advocates on climate change and various environmental organizations on Wednesday, Sept. 23, demanded a “better normal” to put everyone, and the environment in front.

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Filipino youth advocates on climate change and various environmental organizations on Wednesday, Sept. 23, demanded a “better normal” to put everyone, and the environment in front.

“As youth leaders, as young people, we have been active in different forms of advocacy work to forward our legitimate concerns on government policies, but particularly those related to environment and climate, and to those policies that will directly affect us,” said youth representative Jeff Estela during the online press conference.

Estela stressed the recent suppression of the freedom of speech, following the passage of the Anti-Terror Law.

Last July, youth environmental activist Greta Thunberg called to repeal the said law, citing that it equates environmental activism with terrorist activities.

“With the current move and actions of the government, this can be used to intensify the intimidation, fear-mongering, and the present attacks on the environmental defenders and advocates,” Estela said.

Environmental lawyer and activist Atty. Antonio La Viña emphasized the need of the youth to make strong demands, and to take direct action to appeal to the decision makers.

“I think the time now is to be really radical about the solutions,” he said.

La Viña highlighted the benefit of listening to indigenous people, as it will prevent further damage in nature such as the construction of Kaliwa Dam.

Yung climate change is not about carbon. It is not about emissions, ‘di ba? It’s not about markets. It’s on people,” he said. “Tao. Lalo na mahihirap.

Transition of renewable energy, according to La Viña, produces sustainable and cheap energy for everyone.

“Renewable energy is the future, the economics are there for it, and we just have to take very strong action to go to the transition very close to energy,” he said.

The online press conference, “National Youth Demands: Youth Declaration for Climate Justice,” with the theme “Para sa Klimabukasan,” was organized by Youth Strike 4 Climate Philippines in solidarity with global movements inspired by Thunberg. Vhey Dela Cruz Tapia

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‘Democratic spaces shrink amid COVID-19 pandemic’—PhilRights exec

Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights) executive director expressed concern over reduction of civic and democratic spaces in the country as an effect of the “worsening spate” of extra-judicial killings amid COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Photo grabbed from the official Facebook page of UST Simbahayan

Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights) executive director expressed concern over reduction of civic and democratic spaces in the country as an effect of the “worsening spate” of extra-judicial killings amid COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Transparency and accountability are not government priorities. A culture of impunity continues to be perpetuated by the government,” PhilRights Executive Director Nymia Pimentel-Simbulan said. 

Simbulan, who is also the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs of UP Manila, emphasized that passing the Anti-Terror Law of 2020 and lowering the age of criminal liability are “anti-people policies” propagated by the government’s legal apparatus. 

“Part of the efforts of the government to discourage protest actions, political actions intended to call the attention of the government to policies and programs that are anti-people is the framing of civic participation as a destabilizing force,” she said.

Duterte’s core principle of governance

Simbulan condemned the blatant red-tagging of democrative defenders and government critics that recently claimed the lives of Randall Echanis and Zara Alvarez, further highlighting the 2019 Global Peace Index which placed the Philippines as the second least peaceful country in the Asia-Pacific. 

She noted that the government playbook normalizes violence as there are efforts being undertaken by the administration to “make people accept violence” as part of their daily lives.

“President Duterte’s core principle of governance is violence, and even the international community has not failed to recognize this,” Simbulan said. 

However, Simbulan said that there are “glimmers of hope” in different forms of resistance such as continued mobilizations, documentations, and lobbying of petitions in Congress and Supreme Court. 

The webinar titled, “Francisco de Vitoria Linggo ng Karapatang Pantao” was spearheaded by the UST – Simbahayan Community Development Program as a part of the annual human rights activities series every September.

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