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Thomasians, progressive youth groups welcome Lakbayan delegates

The University will host a Lakbayan satellite camp at the Central Seminary Gym from Sept. 11 to 21.

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Photo by Mark Darius Sulit/TomasinoWeb.

Various groups of indigenous peoples and cultural minorities trooped to Mendiola and Liwasang Bonifacio last Thursday for the third year of the Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya.

Under the banner of Sandugo, the groups marched through the streets of Manila despite scattered rain showers to demand an end to the attacks on their communities and to lobby their right to self-determination

“Kami ay pagod, gutom, at pinipigilan sa aming pagpunta dito [sa Maynila],” said Windell Bolinget, leader of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), regarding their struggle.

Several students and progressive youth groups welcomed and joined the protest of more than 3,000 members of national minorities as contingents marched from Blumentritt and Vito Cruz before converging at Mendiola and Liwasang Bonifacio.

Progressive groups from the University joined the mass mobilization at Mendiola and led the Thomasian community in welcoming delegates from CPA along España.

They were joined by the UST Yellow Jackets, the Central Student Council (CSC), UST SIMBAHAYAN, various University student organizations, and progressive student groups from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in front of the Arch of the Centuries, where they held a short program.

Bolinget expressed gratitude for students that welcomed their delegation.

“Kapag may sumasalubong tulad ninyo at may maalab na pag-welcome sa amin, nakakatulong ‘yun para matagumpay naming maisulong [ang] Lakbayan 2017 para sa makatarungang kapayapaan at sariling pagpasya ng pambansang minorya,” he said in an interview with TomasinoWeb.

“We are happy at nagagalak na may kumikilos na kabataang estudyante sa loob ng University of Santo Tomas,” Bolinget added, “sana tuloy-tuloy ito.”

The Igorot delegation will be hosted by the University in a satellite camp at the Central Seminary Gym from Sept. 11 to 21, where programs and discussions will be held as part of the month-long caravan.

University of the Philippines (UP) — Diliman will continue to host the Lakbayan main camp.

CSC Public Relations Officer Francis Santos said that the satellite camp will be enlightening for the Thomasian community.

“Para sa akin, malaking tulong ito para sa ating [mga] Tomasino para mamulat [tayo sa] kung ano ba talaga ‘yung sinisigaw ng pambansang minorya at kung bakit kinakailangan pa nilang pumunta dito sa Maynila,” Santos stated in an interview with TomasinoWeb.

CSC Secretary Therese Gorospe delivered a solidarity message on behalf of the Council in an earlier program.

Kabataan Partylist Representative Sarah Jane Elago, who was present during the program, told TomasinoWeb that she was pleased with the welcome of the students.

“Nagagalak ang Kabataan [na] ang University of Santo Tomas ay nagbukas ng pintuan para salubungin ang pambansang minorya, partikular ang delegasyon ng Cordillera,” said Elago.

She added, “Malaking bagay na makita ng mga estudyante na meron tayong mga mamamayan na naglakbay pa nang malayo upang mapagtanggol [ang] kanilang isyu at kanilang panawagan for their right to self-determination and just peace.”

Nicolo Bongolan, Tanggulan Youth Network – UST convenor, also called for the resumption of peace talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

According to Bongolan, indigenous peoples and minority groups are often red-tagged and harassed by the military for demanding and fighting for their rights.

“[The peace talks are] already part of [the minorities’] struggle for just and lasting peace because, in the first place, all the things they ask for are clearly stated: Land, [fair] salary, work, education and rights,” he said in an interview with TomasinoWeb.

However, Bongolan acknowledged that the hope of resuming the talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF “is low right now,” given that Mindanao is currently under martial law.

Nonetheless, Bongolan stressed that the peace talks are a necessity to end poverty in the country, which he deems as “the main root of our nation’s woes.”

Since 2015, national minority groups have conducted and organized the Lakbayan to protest the spate of harassment, killings, red-tagging and intensified militarization in their communities.

Last May, Lumad communities fled to camp in the UP International Center following President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao on May 23 and its subsequent extension until Dec. 31.

The said communities are planning to continue camping in UP beyond the Lakbayan due to intensified military and paramilitary threat in their areas, and threats of bombing Lumad schools coming from the President himself.

They expect to return to their communities by the end of the year, when martial law is expected to be lifted.— A. Ortega, with reports from P. Jamilla and T.D. Aquino

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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. 

 

Lance Zafe
Stories Writer | + posts

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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

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
Blogs Writer | + posts

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