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Accountability must be internalized, institutionalized — Hontiveros

“I could only share yung mga naging karanasan ko, yung mga reflections ko of those experiences, the same way I’ve learned so much from the women who came before me,” Hontiveros said.

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Photo from the Office of Senator Risa Hontiveros

Senator Risa Hontiveros tackled motherhood in her newly launched book and how she managed to have a work-life balance along with her Senate work.

Last March 26, Hontiveros was also asked about issues concerning women in society, in education, and in the workplace. 

The incumbent senator wrote in her book “Healthy Buhay, Happy Mama: Risa Hontiveros’ Journey Through Motherhood,” her personal tips, life lessons, and experiences on the challenges she encountered as a mother, as well as coping mechanisms during the COVID pandemic. 

In the intimate event organized by BookShelfPH at the Astbury in Poblacion Makati, the Women’s Leader Summit was facilitated by Big Deal (2021) editor and Fearless Filipinas (2021) co-author Katya Lichauco. 

When Lichauco asked why she felt it was important to write the book, Hontiveros replied, “I’ve always loved reading. Bookworm din ako nung pagkabata ako.” She continued on how it was important to be able to share her experiences as a woman, a mother, a lifelong activist, and a legislator. 

In response to Lichauco’s question on how women are more affected by the pandemic’s socio-economic effects, the senator said, “Yung vulnerabilities talaga in terms of jobs and livelihood, enterprises tumindi rin during the pandemic…[T]apos yung vulnerability pa natin to violence against women and children in the homes lalo na during [the] lockdowns.”  

Hontiveros then emphasized that we have to adapt and move forward in terms of work and health. 

“[D]apat dalhin na natin sa new-normal, [to] our workplaces, our schools, our online spaces. We are all responsible for each other. Kailangan yung accountabilities na ‘yon di lang i-internalized, i-institutionalize rin natin. Para it’s really a better normal for everyone and, please, especially for women.” 

Hontiveros hopes that her generation may share their experiences to encourage the next generation of women. 

“I could only share yung mga naging karanasan ko, yung mga reflections ko of those experiences, the same way I’ve learned so much from the women who came before me,” she said.

Hontiveros also acknowledged the pandemic’s costs on education and how it “exacerbated the digital divide.” As the economy recovers, she said it is a challenge for the government and the private sector to improve internet connectivity. 

“Talagang ang lawak na ng digital divide ‘di ba, even before the pandemic. Kaya tuloy, nung pandemic, mas maraming bata at estudyante na napag-iiwanan at nag-drop out na. So, lalong na-exacerbate yung digital divide na iyon,” she said.  

The fireside chat between the two was followed by an open forum. The event was attended by women leaders from the media, corporate, and entrepreneurs. 

Ms. Lyn Ventanilla, one of the attendees, stated why women’s summits like these are important. “These conversations are crucial because not only can we hear from the sources directly, we can also hear from the other participants. We get to hear many stories. It also validates some questions that we have.”

An AI Start-up Founder, Ms. Cherry’s shared a message to young women who want to make their mark on the world. “Don’t be afraid to explore. Especially now that we are entering a new world, the new normal. Everything is definitely new. We need to come out of our shells.”

Hontiveros is an advocate for women, the labor sector, the marginalized, and LGBTQIA+ issues and championed landmark laws like Expanded Maternity Leave Law and the Safe Spaces Act. She is currently campaigning for re-election as her six-year legislative term ends in this year’s election. 

 

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Lance Zafe
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New youth coalition: clean and honest elections

“Hahamunin natin ang sistema gamit ang sistema, gamit ang katotohanan,” Agustin said.

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Photo by Genise Danga/TomasinoWeb

Several universities and organizations joined forces to advocate for a peaceful, clean, and honest 2022 national election.

At the launch of the Kabataan, Tayo and Pag-asa coalition in Ermita, Manila on Apr. 9, UST Central Student Council President-elect Nathan Agustin emphasized the need for combating misinformation during the election season but also stressed the need to advocate for the country’s welfare afterward. 

“Susubukan nating ipaglaban ang direksyon ng ating election pero hindi tayo titigil diyan,” he said. 

He also cited UST’s motto, “veritas in caritate,”  saying that Thomasians are prepared to be truth-bearers for a peaceful society. 

“Hahamunin natin ang sistema gamit ang sistema, gamit ang katotohanan,” he said.

“Naniniwala ako na gustong-gusto namin na sumama sa laban na ito, at handa kami upang ipaglaban ang isang malinis na eleksyon,” he added.

The Artlets Student Council and Botanteng TAMAsino are signatories of the said coalition.

The country’s national elections will be on May 9.

Ian Patrick Laqui
Reports Editor, Reports Writer | + posts

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Manila court junks fratmen’s plea to dismiss Atio Castillo hazing charges

In junking the accused’s claims, the court established that there is sufficient evidence from the prosecution for the charges to continue and for the defendant to present their own evidence.

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Photo by Tristan Deang/TomasinoWeb

A Manila court has denied the motion of 10 Aegis Juris fraternity members linked in the alleged hazing death of UST Civil Law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.

In a 12-page decision released on Wednesday, March 3, Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 11 Acting Presiding Judge Shirley Maglipoc-Pagalilauan ruled that the frat men’s demurrers to evidence for the September 2017 incident were junked for “lack of merit.”

Screengrab from the Manila Regional Trial Court’s decision

A demurrer to evidence is a motion to dismiss a criminal case on the basis that the evidence of the prosecution is insufficient. Once granted, this would lead to the acquittal of the accused without them presenting their own evidence.

In junking the accused’s claims, the court established that there is sufficient evidence from the prosecution for the charges to continue and for the defendant to present their own evidence.

“Through the testimonies of the said prosecution witnesses and documentary exhibits, the prosecution was able to establish all the elements of the offense of hazing as well as the presence of all the accused during the hazing,” the ruling, dated February 24, read.

The motions were filed separately by Jose Miguel Salamat, Joriel Macabali, Robin Ramos, John Audrey Onofre, Marcelino Bagtang Jr., Axel Munro Hipe, Mhin Wei Chan, Arvin Balag, Ralph Trangia, and Dannielle Hans Matthew Rodrigo.

Mark Ventura’s ‘inconsistent testimony’

The court said that the petition challenged the credibility of star witness and fellow Aegis member Mark Anthony Ventura, saying that he “has a motive to implicate the accused to save himself from the prosecution and his testimony is inconsistent with physical evidence.”

But the court asserts otherwise: “[Ventura] was able to provide a detailed, direct and straightforward narration of the events that transpired during the hazing. Evidence does not show that Mark Anthony Ventura has improper motive to falsely testify against the accused, his ‘brods’ in the Aegis Juris Fraternity.” 

The inconsistencies in Ventura’s testimony were “minor,” according to the court. “It rules that such inconsistencies, and even probabilities, are not unusual ‘for there is no person with perfect faculties or senses,’” the decision further read.

READ: Atio’s parents hopeful as trial continues

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Atio’s cause of death

Another argument of the petitioners was that Castillo suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or thickening of the heart muscle, not from the hazing itself. 

However, the court sided and gave much importance to the conclusion of medico-legal officer Dr. Mesalyn Probadora and pathologist Dr. Joseph Palmero that Castillo died due to “severe blunt traumatic injuries.” 

The decision even noted that, even if Castillo’s cause of death is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the accused can remain criminally liable because they were “committing a felony of hazing when Horacio died.” 

“Still, even if the victim is suffering from an internal ailment, liver or heart disease, or tuberculosis; if the blow delivered by the accused is the efficient cause of death; accelerated his death; or is the proximate cause of death; then there is criminal liability,” the judge added.

READ: Aegis Juris fratman guilty of obstruction of justice in Atio’s death

In 2019, John Paul Solano, who brought Castillo to Chinese General Hospital only to be declared dead on arrival, was found guilty of obstruction of justice. He was sentenced to an indefinite penalty of a minimum of two years, four months and one day in prison and a maximum of four years, two months and one day.

If found guilty, the accused will have to face up to 40 years of imprisonment for the violation of the Anti-Hazing Law or Republic Act 8049. 

Paolo Alejandrino
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Red-tagging ‘license to kill’ for law enforcers—solon

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago denounced the continuing red-tagging of activists and academic institutions, emphasizing it endangers the youth and others who are being subjected to the “deadly” practice.

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Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago during the online discussion on campus press freedom yesterday, March 10.

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago denounced the continuing red-tagging of activists and academic institutions, emphasizing it endangers the youth and others who are being subjected to the “deadly” practice. 

“Hindi pwedeng trial by publicity, part of public opinion, o sa social media na hinuhusgahan ‘yung mga organizations [at] list of personalities dahil tila ‘yung red-tagging [ay] nagiging license to kill ng mga law enforcement and other rogue elements in our society,” Elago said in an online discussion with campus publications on Wednesday, March 10. 

Elago stressed that the recent tagging of 38 colleges and universities in the country as “recruitment havens” of the New People’s Army violates their right to due process, which deprives them of the chance to defend themselves.

“[R]ed-baiting discredits those who were being targeted, undermine the work they do, and sensationalizes lives […] just to scandalize critics, opposition, and all those who are reporting the trust,” she said. 

According to College Editors Guild of the Philippines National Secretariat Anton Narciso, red-tagging is one of the issues campus journalists continue to face, citing recent attacks on student publications in the University of the Philippines and in other regions. 

“Bagamat nakakatakot po talaga ang red-tagging, kinakailangan na collectively labanan […] dahil wala tayong ibang panghahawakan at wala tayong ibang sasaligan kundi ang ating kolektibong pakikipaglaban,” Narciso said. 

This mirrors the call of various student publications to repeal R.A. 7079 or the Campus Journalism Act of 1991, and instead, pass a bill that will uphold genuine campus press freedom. 

“It’s high time na meron na tayong solid protection for student journalists, considering that these publications don’t do anything but report the truth,”  Tinig ng Plaridel Editor-in-Chief Cristina Chi said. 

Chi revealed that her publication received death threats, labelling them as “terrorist reporters” through text messages. 

“[T]hey just release stories about the community tapos biglang may red-tagging nang nagaganap,” Chi said.

“At its core, these red-tagging or [similar] actions have no place in our society,” she added.

Lee Seril
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