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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.

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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Thomasians slam proposed mandatory ROTC

“Nationalism through blind obedience is superficial and potentially dangerous to our own countrymen.”

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A student holds a placard denouncing the proposed mandatory ROTC during a protest in front UST Gate 2 in August 2019 | Christine Anmmarie Tapawan/TomasinoWeb

Thomasians denounced the passage of proposed mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) during the House Committee hearing on bills mandating the inclusion of the program in Grades 11 and 12.

“Nationalism through blind obedience is superficial and potentially dangerous to our own countrymen,” Institute of Information and Computing Sciences Public Relations Officer Carl Jeric Mataga said during the joint meeting at the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020.

Mataga emphasized that a strong sense of nationalism is requisite in serving the nation, but students should be allowed to choose how they are going to serve the country.

“We can achieve this through teaching our students the history of the land they live in and the values we hold as a country and providing them the avenues that help their fellow countrymen such as through the National Service Training Program [NSTP] which we have right now,” he said.

Mataga also cited the incident of violence which involved Mark Welson Chua, the former UST ROTC cadet who was murdered after exposing the anomalies in the University’s ROTC.

“The problem with the issues within ROTC is that these injustices are systematic,” he said. “In Chua’s case, he questioned this unjustice system that he witnessed and he was killed for it. What kind of honorable system allows people of such character to achieve such high ranks?”

External Vice President of UST Senior High School Humanities and Social Sciences Society Mary Anjannette Santos also said that mandatory ROTC “will only further perpetuate its known culture of violence” rather than instilling nationalism.

“It cannot be a requirement for students to take part in their country’s armed forces in times of war or conflict,” Santos said. “This impedes our right…this oppresses our academic freedom. “

She also said that the mandatory ROTC will mean heavier workloads for students and that the lawmakers should review K to 12 program which still has pending issues in its implementation.

“Nationalistic perspective on the solutions of the country’s social ills can be best inculcated in the students through education,” Santos said.

“The urge of the youth to resist against foreign invaders or colonizers and to defend the state can be best generated through the deeper understanding of how and why the Filipinos in the past fought against it,” she added.

On Mark Chua’s case

Some of the resource persons and legislators during the hearing inferred that the scrapping of ROTC was because of the alleged violence in ROTC and the nationwide reaction to Chua’s murder.

The Department of National Defense (DND) denied the reported anomalies.

These are all allegations. All those that were responsible were charged in court, and they were held criminally liable,” Defense Legal Affairs Chief Atty. Norman Daanoy said.

Recent updates on Chua’s case, however, say that the other suspects, Paul Tan and Michael Manangbao, still remain at large.
“There are other issues which we want to raise connected with the ROTC, but upon investigation it is not even related to ROTC. They are just using ROTC just to oppose the revival of ROTC,” Daanoy said.

Possible alternatives

University of the Philippines (UP) Vanguard Chairman Emeritus Gilbert Reyes proposed that “genuine citizen service program” would be a better replacement for mandatory ROTC because military deals in external threats, while what has been usually occurring were disasters and lawlessness.

“There are other problems, and yet we cannot actually call on our citizenship to help us in those regards. So there are many departments of government that have nowhere to go. If you have a need for deployment nowadays, there is only one place to go…the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Reyes said.

“If we direct our limited resources to training a citizenry to render service to a wide range of potential public services, then we are actually spreading our limited resources to a greater number of beneficiaries,” he added.

Kabataan party-list representative Sarah Elago said that inculcating nationalism and discipline among students should be a part of a bigger reform that would educate them on humanitarian principles and protection of human dignity.

“Kung gusto talaga nating baguhin yung sistema ng edukasyon at magkaroon ng mga makabayan na mga estudyante na handang magsilbi sa bayan, kailangan natin ng mas makabuluhan na reporma sa edukasyon,” Elago said in an interview with TomasinoWeb.

“Sa kasalukuyan at in the past, meron na ring efforts yung Kabataan para gawin yon. Ang tawag doon [ay] yung expanded NSTP bill,” she said.

The freedom to choose how to serve the country, according to Elago, is the foundation of the expanded NSTP bill.

“So dapat natin ‘yong protektahan. At hindi dapat puwersahin ang mga estudyante na mag-take ng mandatory ROTC,” Elago said.

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No political party in 2020 Central Elections

In the two resolutions released by the UST Central Commission on Elections, the petitions of Lakas Tomasino Coalition (LTC) for reaccreditation, and the Student’s Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UST (STAND-UST) for its registration were denied.

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A Central COMELEC staff tallies the votes in the manual elections of the University in 2017 | Audrey Fontilla/TomasinoWeb

No political party was accredited for the University’s Central Elections this year after the two political parties failed to meet the requirements.

In the two resolutions released by the UST Central Commission on Elections on Monday, 10 Feb. 2020, the petitions of Lakas Tomasino Coalition (LTC) for reaccreditation, and the Student’s Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UST (STAND-UST) for its registration were denied.

LTC failed to meet the required 50 members from different colleges, faculties, schools, and institutes.

STAND-UST have completed the required 50 members but have not obtained at least two representatives from at least 15 colleges, faculties, schools and/or institutes.

According to Central COMELEC’s resolution, the submission of requirements has been extended several times since Nov. 27, 2019.

The UST Students’ Election Code of 2011 (USEC) states that central political parties must have “a minimum member of fifty (50) students and at least two (2) representatives from at least fifteen (15) faculties, colleges, schools, and/or institutes.”

This, however, does not affect the operations in the local elections in colleges, faculties, schools and institutes of the two parties mentioned above.

Changes in this year’s UST Elections

UST Central COMELEC Chairperson Lauren Eunice Navales said that they are expecting a higher voter turnout this year and more candidates will run in Local and Central elections. 

“Hopefully this year, mas marami na ‘yung tumakbo and tumaas ‘yung voter turnout,” Navales told TomasinoWeb in an exclusive interview.

“‘Yung iba kasi parang bahala na isa lang naman ‘yung vote ko. Feeling nila hindi nagma-matter ‘yung vote nila when in fact malaking part siya ng elections. Kasi without that one vote, malaki ‘yung nagbabago,” she said.

For her, one reason for the low voter turnout in the past years is that the students’ do not feel and see the difference in their vote.

“Based from what I here from people, hindi nila nafee-feel kung ano ‘yung nangyayari kung meron bang difference sa pag-vote nila or hindi, sa mga projects sa ganun. Especially sa local elections,” Navales said.

She also encouraged Thomasians to be more participative in this year’s elections.

“‘Yung right natin to vote, important siya lalo na paglabas natin ng UST. Magvo-vote tayo and participate sa national elections. And if ngayon palang na students tayo, hindi natin ine-exercise ‘yung right na ‘yon, parang make them realize na its important and malaki ‘yung magagawa nung vote na ‘yon,” she said.

The Central COMELEC also expects to have a more synchronized Calendar of Activities for this year’s elections for every college to ensure that every student will have the time to vote.

“Pinakamaayos sa lahat ng colleges na nag-e-election is AMV, kasi may scheduling sila. […] AMV kasi required their students to vote. Not all units ganon. Mahirap din naman na mag-force ‘yung student na mag-vote ka. […] Kasi right ng student na tumanggi kung ayaw niya. But kailangan din marealize ng student na important din ‘yung vote niya. Right din niyang mag-vote ng tao na gusto niyang maupo,” she said.

‘Yun ‘yung gusto […] para lahat ng sections maka-vote. And if ‘di man maka-vote sa kanila [local units], maforward sa open precincts [satellite precincts] if ever.

Navales also added that local COMELEC units/committees in colleges were asked to change their name to avoid confusion with the Central COMELEC and its units.

“Kasi ang societies, may sarili silang COMELEC na hindi under ng Central COMELEC. […] Pero kasi when you hear na COMELEC, part siya ng Central COMELEC. So ‘yun ‘yung nirequest namin na if ever, palitan nila ‘yung name kasi hindi naman sila under namin,” Navales said.

“Ang toong hawak lang ni COMELEC, ‘yung councils. ‘Yun ‘yung required naming hawakan. Pero ‘yung societies, magre-request sila kay COMELEC kung gusto nila,” she added.

Revision of the 2011 USEC

Meanwhile, the revision of the University Students’ Election Code of 2011 is still underway and is expected to be finalized this school year.

“Ilang years na siyang ina-update. And last year, last sem, nag-convene na ‘yung en banc ng Central and Local units para ma-finalize ‘yung draft. And this month, February, ipre-present na ulit siya, ‘yung final draft to the Central en bancs and Local en bancs ng Comelec para finally mapresent na ulit siya sa Central Board,” Navales said.

According to Navales, the revision of the USEC failed to reach a quorum in the Central Board last year. If it will be passed this school year, it will be implemented next academic year.

“Umabot na ng graduation kaya start from scratch this year. Kaya kinonsider namin ‘yung changes na sinuggest last year. […] If mapasa this school year, next school year bago na USEC,” she said.

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UST earns perfect passing rate in physical, occupational therapy boards

The University posted a 100-percent passing rate in the February 2020 physical and occupational therapists licensure examinations.

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The University posted a 100-percent passing rate in the February 2020 physical and occupational therapists licensure examinations.

All seven Thomasians who took the licensure exams for physical therapists made it to the cut. It was higher from last year’s 15 out of 16 examinees or a rate of 93.75 percent.

Zsanfernes Ocampo of Angeles University Foundation topped the physical therapists exams with a score of 88.45 percent.

The University also earned a perfect passing rate in the licensure exams for occupational therapists exams with all six Thomasians passing the boards.

Hannah Mae Corpuz of Velez College led the new batch of occupational therapists with 83.00-percent rating.

Velez College topped the physical therapist exams with 96.53 percent or 83 out 86 examinees passing, while the University of the Philippines-Manila topped the occupational therapist exams with with all 12 examinees passing.

The national passing rate for physical therapists exams improved to 61 percent or 729 out of 1,195 examinees from last year’s 59.98 percent, or 772 out of 1,287 examinees.

Meanwhile, the national passing rate for occupational therapists exams also improved to 73.61 percent, or 159 out of 216 examinees, from last year’s 57.82 percent, or 122 out of 211 examinees.

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