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Thomasians join nationwide walkout against tuition hike

Students from several colleges and universities, including the University of Santo Tomas, protested on Wednesday, Feb. 24, against another round of tuition and other school fees increase.

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Students from several colleges and universities, including the University of Santo Tomas, protested on Wednesday, Feb. 24, against another round of tuition and other school fees increase.

“Magwo-walkout ang mga estudyante, lalabas sa kanilang mga klase, para ipanawagan ‘yong pag-taas ng tuition fee na naman at kawalang regulation ng gobyerno,” said Students Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UST member Alyssa Patrisse Alonzo.

From Academic Year 2005-2006 up to Academic Year 2015-2016, UST has increased tuition fees by about 59 percent in total, based on data from the Central Student Council. The administration has yet to comment on the issue.

“Hindi naman talaga natin maiiwasan ang pagtaas na ganoon ‘di ba? Bilihin nga tumataas, gasolina tumataas. […] Gusto lang namin makita kung tunay ba ‘yon, hindi ba naglolokahan lang tayo dito?” Alonzo said.

“Maswerte kung matitigil [ang tuition and other school fees increase],” she said when asked if the University administration would heed their calls.

“Pero ang stand lang naman palagi dito ay, kung mag-tataas ng tuition fee, dapat ay mayroon silang justification,” Alonzo continued.

 

 

 

‘Thomasians morally obliged’

“Thomasians are morally obliged to join the struggle for social justice and renounce their conservative label,” said Uzriel Guthrie Naguit, League of Filipino Students-UST chairperson.

Naguit believes that Thomasians have the power to block tuition hikes and junk other school fees in UST.

“This collective force can certainly make the entire country listen to the plea of every Filipino student and mobilize the people towards an education that is accessible.”

It is possible for the entire student body to challenge even the Aquino administration to stop the deregulation and commercialization of education, he added.

Naguit also stated that students should not “settle with the less that this rotten system of education is giving us (students).”

“As Thomasians exemplifying the core values of competence, compassion, and commitment, we are challenged to become living symbols of hope as we ward against the path of an elitist education that will marginalize many bright and aspiring Thomasians,” he said.

But are protests still as effective as student activists say they are?

“I think, the more important issue is, are we that knowledgeable of the issues [we are fighting for],” said Ferdinand Maglalang, a Journalism professor at the Faculty of Arts and Letters.

“In most cases kasi, napapansin namin that, students who rally on social issues, they are spoon-fed what they should think, rather than thinking for themselves.”

Maglalang added that there are student activists who collaborate with militant groups, who have biases.

“Students should also realize that these militant groups have an agenda. So, the more rallies that they have, the better for them (militant groups).”

“Ang takot ko, baka nagagamit na lamang kayo (students).”

As to the effectivity of student activism, he believes that it was effective in the past, citing the movement against Martial Law and the People Power uprisings that produced student activists who, later on, became government officials.

“It is effective also in the sense that students are becoming aware of issues, students are no longer apathetic. I mean, young people, in general, are no longer apathetic because they are involved in issues,” he said.

The UST administration hears the concerns of the students, Maglalang believes. However, “Ang reservation ko is, anong issue ang ine-embrace niyo (students)?” he said.

“Sana lang, mayroong mas mabigat na mga issue na ipinaglalaban,” he added.

Maglalang also stated that student activism is not a question of effectivity, but of students being able to exercise their grievances, especially on issues that impact them and their education.

“Siguro, mararamdaman nila (students) ang advantage ng mga action [namin] kapag nagkaroon na ng regulation sa tuition fee. ‘Yong mga iba dyan, akala lang nila walang impact ito, pero kapag nakita nila na natigil nga ang tuition fee [increase], siguro makakapag-pasalamat pa sila sa mga taong nag-sasakripisyo para dito,” Alonzo said about people who see student activists as mere hooligans.

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Alonzo also believes that student formations are still evidently effective as they help raise awareness about issues concerning the youth.

“Ngayon, dahil hindi namin maramdaman pa masyado ‘yong kanilang pag-kilos, nananawagan na  [ulit kami] ngayon. Kung hindi madaan sa diplomatikong pag-uusap, kailangan talagang magkaroon ng action ulit,” she said.

Kabataan Partylist, League of Filipino Students, and Rise for Education Alliance led the “National Day of Action vs Tuition and Other School Fees,” which started at Palma Hall, UP Diliman at around noon.

Protesters gathered in front of UST at around 1 p.m., then marched to Mendiola an hour later. With them was an effigy of President Benigno Aquino III, whom they labeled as “tuition hike king.”

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Counter military, police propaganda-based disinformation—veteran journalist

Rappler managing editor urged aspiring journalists Friday, Oct. 23, to fight propaganda-based disinformation caused by law enforcers.

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Photo grabbed from Rappler.com

Rappler managing editor urged aspiring journalists Friday, Oct. 23, to fight propaganda-based disinformation caused by law enforcers.

Glenda Gloria, a journalism alumna of the University, said that the military and the police do not seem to understand the role of the media as the fourth estate because of their “very utilitarian” view of information. 

“They use information as propaganda because they think it has to achieve something for the organization, whether that means further securing the country or defeating the enemies of the state,” Gloria said in a fact-checking webinar. 

According to her, the attempt of law enforcers to speed up their propaganda is due to the tremendous pressure to eliminate insurgency before President Duterte steps down in 2020. 

“The biggest factor behind the politicization of the armed forces is the commander-in-chief. Whatever the President wants will determine the political influence of the military,” she said. 

Gloria reminded aspiring journalists that no war has been won using propaganda as a primary tool and to “continue the fight against lies” that are being weaponized for the mass destruction of the country.

The webinar titled, “Propaganda, State Secrets and Other Issues in the Security Sector,” was hosted by MovePH, the civic engagement arm of Rappler. Vhey Tapia and Raheema Velasco 

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Flatten curve to revive economy, solon says

The government should remain in its goal of flattening the curve to revive the economy, a lawmaker advised Saturday, Oct. 24.

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Photo courtesy of the UST Central Student Council

The government should remain in its goal of flattening the curve to revive the economy, a lawmaker advised Saturday, Oct. 24.

“Klaro naman na hindi natin kailangan pumili between saving lives and livelihood. Hindi na tama na ang trade-off between the two…[b]ecause we can save both,” Marikina 2nd District Representative Stella Quimbo said. 

Quimbo, who is also an economist, stressed the importance of evidence-based policymaking and monitoring, as well as business continuity and job projection interventions. 

The solution and interventions included grants for technical assistance, subsidies for COVID-19 testing, and wage subsidies with retention clauses. 

“We can afford to rise, pero dapat balansehin so as not to fall into a debt crisis… [b]ecause as we all know napakadali po to become poor pero napakahirap mag-exit sa poverty. Importanteng importante ang datos,” Quimbo said.

Quimbo also laid out the framework for the Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy of the Philippines (ARISE), which she is one of the principal authors. 

Under the ARISE, a comprehensive plan will be followed to address the pandemic-brought economic crisis with a proposed P1.3 trillion budget over three years.

In the bill still pending in the Senate, Quimbo specified transitional, financial, sectoral, and structural support that, according to her, were the basis of the framework for the “mini-version” of the Bayanihan 2 that is in effect until the end of this year.

‘Reform the economy’

IBON Foundation executive director Sonny Africa urged the government to “reform and shape” an economy that benefits everyone. 

According to Africa, the government’s current response is focused on a “very artificial poverty reduction” by granting cash transfers without addressing the structure that continues poverty.

“The government is very keen on infrastructure to promote economic growth, but the Philippines is so lacking in economic fundamentals as it uses infrastructure as a short-cut to growth,” he said.

Africa also criticized that while the government is focused on infrastructure development, decades of neoliberal health privatization eroded  the public health system, which worsened the mortality rate even pre-pandemic.

The webinar “EkonDisyon: Philippine Economic Recession and COVID-19” is a part of the MulaTalakayan organized by the University’s Central Student Council. 

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Tourism recovery to revamp economic sectors, officials urge

Tourism officials stressed the importance of a responsible and “new normal-ready” recovery in the tourism sector amid gradual easing of health protocols in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Photo courtesy of the UST Research Center for Social Sciences & Education

Tourism officials stressed the importance of a responsible and “new normal-ready” recovery in the tourism sector amid gradual easing of health protocols in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Provincial Tourism and Cultural Affairs Officer Alfonsus Tesoro called for sustainable and strategic recovery efforts to support and revamp economic sectors.

“Tuloy-tuloy dapat ang pag-conduct ng tourism site assessment and planning kasama ang iba’t-ibang stakeholders from the national government agencies, provincial government offices, and the private sector,” Tesoro said in a webinar, Thursday, Oct. 23. 

According to Department of Tourism (DOT) Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes, a survey conducted in Eastern Visayas showed that 66 percent of the respondents admitted that health risks affected their decision to travel, while 80 percent are now eager to visit tourism sites within the region only. 

“This gives us an idea of what tourism activities we should prioritize when we reopen our [tourism] sites. A large majority expect health and safety protocols in place, there should be value for money, and that fun activities will still be offered even under the ‘new normal,’” she said.

Tiopes added that despite the steady reopening of the tourism sector, health protocols would still be strictly employed to ensure safety of tourists and residents. 

The webinar titled, “Philippine Tourism Development and COVID-19 Pandemic: Recovery through Sustainable Development,” was spearheaded by the University’s College of Tourism and Hospitality Management in partnership with the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines, Inc., and co-organized by the UST Research Center for Social Sciences and Education. Paolo Alejandrino 

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