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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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Student organization condemn anti-terror bill provisions

The University of Santo Tomas (UST) The Political Science Forum (TPSF) condemned the constitutionality of the “questionable” provisions and mechanisms of the Anti-Terror Law (ATL).

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Arden Esmile/TomasinoWeb

The University of Santo Tomas (UST) The Political Science Forum (TPSF) condemned the constitutionality of the “questionable” provisions and mechanisms of the Anti-Terror Law (ATL).

“[T]he Draconian measures pointed out by critics of the law emphasized on the stifling of dissent and criticism, and the possible danger of disregarding the democratic freedom of every Filipino,” the statement released yesterday, July 4 read.

TPSF also called for vigilance among Filipinos amid the signing of the Anti-Terror Bill into Law last Friday, July 3. 

“Given this turn of events, the Forum calls for vigilance among all Filipinos in ensuring that its enforcement shall be free from disfranchisement of fundamental rights of everyone,” the Forum said. 

TPSF stressed that government critics, student activists, indignant masses, and indigenous groups in the country are the “most vulnerable” in the enforcement of the highly scrutinized warrantless investigations and arrest. 

According to the Forum, the provisions of the law, specifically on the prolonged detention of the alleged violator and lesser liability of law enforcers from erroneous accusations, “may result in power tripping and reckless law enforcement.” 

“[T]he balance of power in handling revolving around terrorism are centered to the executive department whereas the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) shall be comprised of presidential appointees, members who have most likely to have conflict of interest with the state,” TPSF said. 

The Forum also questioned the “practicality and relevance of the bill” during the pandemic.

A group of lawyers and civic leaders, led by Lawyer Howard Calleja, filed yesterday, July 4, the very first petition against the newly signed ATL before the Supreme Court. Jayziel Khim Budino

 

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Students not ready for self-directed learning—EdTech director

Students “may not be really ready” for self-direction and learning independence without “prodding from the teachers,” the University’s Educational Technology Center (EdTech) director said yesterday, June 27.

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Screengrab from the Learning in Focus webinar

Students “may not be really ready” for self-direction and learning independence without “prodding from the teachers,” the University’s Educational Technology Center (EdTech) director said yesterday, June 26.

“With or without pandemic, no single tool really and no amount of technology would be the solution to all our instructional problems,” Asst. Prof. Anna Cherylle Ramos, president of Philippine e-Learning Society, said during a webinar about shifting from classroom to online term.

Virtual monitoring sessions and centralized e-learning support unit, according to Ramos, was provided by the University to the teachers for the implementation of an online learning system.

“For the context of the University of Santo Tomas that has been using online technology for almost 20 years since 2002, we had the edge of implementing our continuity plan for teaching and learning right away after the declaration of the lockdown,” she said.

Ramos mentioned that in a survey conducted by the University, 98-percent of the faculty and 94-percent of the students have no stable internet connection.

“Out of our survey, we were able to locate the students with no internet connection and with our partnership with major telecom companies who were able to deliver the devices and the pocket wifi devices, so that they are able to finish the semester,” she said.

“I guess for me, COVID-19 also provided some positive contribution because it has unleashed a revolution in our education,” Ramos said.

Challenges ‘more psychological’

The bigger challenge in taking the education online, according to De La Salle Lipa College of Information and Engineering Dean Jorge Bacobo, is more psychological than technical.

“Those [technological problems], we know what the solutions are,” Bacobo said. “It’s getting the people who are involved for example in our schools, teachers, parents, administrators, to adjust to a revolution that’s forced [on] us by pandemic.”

“It’s really the evolution of people and how they have to change their relationships with each other in order to address the new needs of a new normal,” he added.

Bacobo emphasized that the pandemic changing the whole world challenged more the relationship between the students and the teachers and between the teachers and their teaching platform.

“Teachers suddenly realized they’re not anymore the sages on the stages. They’re now set aside. They’re more like guides on the side…They are no longer the medium of instruction,” he said.

Bacobo explained that the digital infrastructure has become the new medium and the teacher’s “avatar” or representative.

Department of Education Undersecretary Nepo Malaluan also said that online learning is “a very potent tool.”

“When we talk about the learning continuity in this time of COVID and doing distance learning, online learning is only one of the modalities,” he said. 

“Our viewers and our parents and learners and the public and sometimes even policy makers equate distance learning with the online learning platform,” he added. 

Technological challenges of online learning, according to Malaluan, are the capacity of teachers in delivery of large-scale online learning, conversion of classroom-based learning resources to distance learning resources, and the cost of online learning to the students.

Ramos urged the students that despite the teachers being “converted into text,” students should be more understanding as the issue of bandwidth impedes the online availability of the teachers.

“Online technology or online instructions would just be one of the many things we can do to be able to deliver that content,” Ramos said. “[Students] must realize that while we are doing something like this, we still have your teaching presence.”

“The learning activities themselves and the step by step procedure being given by the teachers is in fact the teaching presence themselves. There should be that understanding on both parties,” she said.

The webinar, “Learning in Focus,” was organized by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Inq To be You, and INQUIRER.net.

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CSC decries ‘unlawful arrest’ of ‘Pride 20’

The University Central Student Council (CSC) condemned the “violent and unlawful” arrest of 20 protestors who participated in the Pride March held in front of Mendiola Peace Arch, Friday morning, June 26. 

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Carmina Beatriz Dizon/TomasinoWeb

The University Central Student Council (CSC) condemned the “violent and unlawful” arrest of 20 protestors who participated in the Pride March held in front of Mendiola Peace Arch, Friday morning, June 26. 

“[It] is a clear abuse of undignifying power against our LGBTQIA+ brothers and sisters,” CSC’s statement read.

The protestors who were arrested called to junk the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which is set to lapse into law on July 9. 

Different progressive groups who joined the rally were dispersed by the police, despite observing health protocols such as physical distancing and wearing of face masks.

“Our expression of dissent will never be an act of terrorism. Pride is a protest. #FreePride20!” CSC said. 

According to reports and posts circulating online, several police were seen “hijacking” one of the demonstrators’ private vehicles to bring them to the police station. 

The police nabbed 20 people, 10 of which are members of Bahaghari including its spokesperson Rey Valmores-Salinas, eight members of Gabriela, and two drivers.

Salinas took to Twitter to express her concern on their arrest: “Hinuli man kami ngayon, walang pandemiya, walang lockdown, at mas lalong walang mga pasistang baboy ang makapipigil ng pagsinag ng Bahaghari. #SulongWagPatinag.” 

#FreePride20

The arrested protestors were not informed of their violations and were not read of their Miranda rights, which angered the netizens.

The #FreePride20 trended on Twitter as netizens called for the immediate release of the ‘Pride 20,’ which were currently detained at the Manila Police District headquarters.

Miss Universe 2019 Catriona Gray as well as groups such as Gabriela Women’s Party, Bahaghari, and Metro Manila Pride also condemned the arrest. 

Three minors were already released, but the remaining are set to spend the weekend in detention as inquest proceedings resume on Monday.

The Metro Manila Pride March was originally set on June 27. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the event was cancelled and will be held via virtual gathering instead. 

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