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UST JournSoc defends press freedom amid Ressa’s verdict

“Because of the ruling, anyone who publishes content online can be charged within 12 years of publication, something that can be exploited by corrupt politicians, businessmen and interest groups to harass journalists who stand their way,” their statement released on June 16 read. 

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Arden Esmile/TomasinoWeb

The University of Santo Tomas (UST) Journalism Society (JournSoc) once again stood by the freedom of the press amid cyber libel guilty verdict on veteran journalist Maria Ressa last June 14.

“Because of the ruling, anyone who publishes content online can be charged within 12 years of publication, something that can be exploited by corrupt politicians, businessmen and interest groups to harass journalists who stand their way,” their statement released on June 16 read. 

The ruling was penned by Thomasian alumna Judge Rainelda Estacio Montesa, to which the society called “questionable” and “outrageous.” 

The verdict on Ressa and researcher-writer Reynaldo Santos Jr., according to JournSoc president Lorenzo Arroyo, “sets a dangerous precedent for press freedom in the Philippines.” 

“[F]or 12 whole years, any journalist or media organization may be sued for libel…[Q]uoting barrister Amal Clooney, this tells journalists to either ‘shut up or be next,’” Arroyo told TomasinoWeb

The student organization urged the public to not let their guards down and to stay vigilant. 

Arroyo advised the Thomasians to “read up” on credible sources and trustworthy organizations before taking a stand. She urged the community to “never remain silent.”

“[W]hoever is behind all these wants all of us to be silent. Let us not give them that power. We continue to raise our voices and we must never stand down,” Arroyo said.

“Freedom of speech is the foundation of other rights that we enjoy. Let’s use it, protect it, or else we’ll lose it,” she added.

Arroyo encouraged the Thomasian journalists to remain firm on their values as journalists in this trying time.

“No matter what law is used as a weapon against us, we must always remember that our first obligation is to the truth, which we deliver untainted to the public,” she said. Jayziel Khim Budino

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Faculty of Medicine remembers professor Lorenzo Magat, 60

The UST – Faculty of Medicine and Surgery (FMS) expressed their grief over the passing of Dr. Lorenzo Magat in an online eulogy on Thursday, Jan. 7. 

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Dr. Lorenzo "Chito" Magat (Photo from UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery website)

The UST – Faculty of Medicine and Surgery (FMS) expressed their grief over the passing of Dr. Lorenzo Magat in an online eulogy on Thursday, Jan. 7. 

Magat died last Dec. 30 at the age of 60. He is an alumna of the University and a professor at the UST-FMS, where he taught microbiology and clinical pathology. 

Former adviser to the National Task Force for COVID-19 and UST alumna Dr. Tony Leachon described him as a “silent yet caring” friend. 

“He was a good friend of many. Silent lang yung style niya,” Leachon said. 

Earlier on Jan. 2, Leachon also took to Facebook his sorrow over Magat’s death. 

“Today we gather to mourn as one, ensuring your memory will never be undone. In loving memory of the one we love and honor, may your brightness always shine down from above,”  Leachon said. 

One of Magat’s former students recalls him as a “kind and passionate professor,” someone who encouraged them to study and understand medicine in a deeper sense to become great doctors someday. 

Several colleagues also flocked online to extend their condolence and sympathy to Magat’s family.

“[H]e was our clinical pathology resident before. I [will] always remember his smile,” the post read. 

The community mass was streamed online in the UST-FMS official Facebook page last Jan. 7 followed by a novena and a eulogy.

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Red-tagging Facebook page copycat surfaces

The copycat page, since yesterday, Jan. 3, has already put up satirical posts that deride activism and label rallyists as communists.

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Conservative-leaning and red-tagging page, The Right Thomasian (right), was removed from Facebook, and its copycat page (left) emerged on Sunday, Jan. 3.

Conservative-leaning page, “The Right Thomasian,” on Monday, Jan. 4, has been removed from Facebook a week after drawing flak for red-tagging UST Journalism program coordinator. 

Another page named, “The Righter Thomasian,” emerged after the deletion of The Right Thomasian. 

“Last page got zucced but those leftshits can’t stop the big daddy of Thomasian values,” the page said in its latest post. 

According to Facebook’s help center, pages get unpublished by violating the website’s community standards such as misleading people and posting hate speech. 

The copycat page, since yesterday, Jan. 3, has already put up satirical posts that deride activism and label rallyists as communists.

The page says it is against leftism, socialism, feminism, human rights, and equality within the University and is beingmanaged by students of the University of Santo Tomas.”

Last Dec. 28, the original page alleged UST Journalism Head Felipe Salvosa II of having connections with the recruitment of students with the communist rebellion. 

Salvosa denied the allegations and called it a “malicious and unfounded accusation via seemingly innocuous blind item.” 

The page also accused Central Student Council President Robert Gonzales of “openly inciting students to commit sedition,” after a signature campaign that called to oust President Duterte for his negligence. 

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Journalism head debunks red-tagging claim

“Whoever is running this page is spreading a malicious and unfounded accusation via a seemingly innocuous blind item,” Salvosa said in a tweet.

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University of Santo Tomas (UST) Journalism Head Felipe Salvosa II (Photo from UST Journalism Society).

The University Journalism program coordinator denied connections with the alleged recruitment of students to the communist rebellion on Monday, Dec. 28.

The conservative-leaning Facebook page The Right Thomasian, whose administrators are still unknown, claimed in a post that a member of the journalism faculty introduced an alumnus to an outside recruiter, which almost led the student to join the rebellion. 

“Whoever is running this page is spreading a malicious and unfounded accusation via a seemingly innocuous blind item,” Salvosa said in a tweet. 

UST Journalism Head Felipe Salvosa II took to Twitter his response to the allegations. 

Salvosa cited a specific comment in his Twitter thread in which the admin of The Right Thomasian dropped a hint and he felt alluded to. 

He denied connections with alternative media organization, Bulatlat, and clarified that he was a former editor-in-chief of The Varsitarian, the University’s official student publication, and not of Bulatlat.com. 

“As a faculty member and journalism program head of UST, I am fully committed to the rules and regulations of the University, its vision and mission, its Catholic identity, and to the molding of committed, compassionate and competent Thomasians,” Salvosa said.

Salvosa also urged The Right Thomasian to show evidence of his alleged involvement in the recruitment of students in the armed rebellion, and not to “hide behind anonymity and blind items.”

An hour after the department chair tweeted his response to the page’s post, The Right Thomasian wrote that they “will not confirm nor deny” the allegations in their post. 

“We will not confirm nor deny our blind items. Sobrang vague ng clues namin. It could be anyone you imagine…[R]eactionary game iz (sic) strong,” they said. 

Series of red-tagging

READ  Media expert to journ majors: ‘It takes courage to be a journalist’

The Right Thomasian tagged itself as a community page managed by conservative Thomasians, whose aim is to “counter toxic leftism and socialism” within the University. 

It has since then been a platform for red-tagging certain Thomasians, including the incumbent Central Student Council president Robert Dominic Gonzales.

On Nov. 19, the page accused Gonzales of “openly inciting students of the University to commit sedition,” after sharing a link to a signature campaign calling to oust President Rodrigo Duterte for his negligence.

The Right Thomasian also put out a blind item on Dec. 28, which pointed out that a faculty member of the UST Department of Political Science was allegedly a “retired radical leftist.”

Despite the continuous red-tagging of students, and now professors, the University has not released any statements on the Facebook page yet.

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