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#TWenty: TomasinoWeb’s 2019 year-end special

The country is about to close yet another year, yet another decade. Take a look back at the biggest moments in the country and the University that made 2019 in this #TWenty, the TomasinoWeb year-end special.

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Board by Aldrich Aquino

In 2019, the country was able to reach heights previously thought to be insurmountable. As the country fulfills said achievements, many Filipinos were able to use the circumstances and turn their lives around for the better.

However, the country was met with a lot of twists and turns in the past year, especially during the elections which was hounded by all sorts of controversies. The government seemed to be fixated on boosting the country’s image this past year with projects such as Build-Build-Build, the SEA Games hosting stint, and the Rice Liberalization Law, among many others. However, these projects were met with issues of budgeting, corruption, and general discomfort among fellow Filipinos.

The City of Manila was also able to experience drastic change with the incumbency of its new mayor, Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, as seen in his efforts in ‘revamping’ the city. This, however, also caused the closure of several small businesses. Street food stalls and bars around the University were not safe from Domagoso’s policies, as many small businesses were forced to shut or transfer to another place.

This year also showed the cracks and crevices of our justice system. Sandiganbayan junked the Marcoses’ case on their P200-billion ill-gotten wealth, and the ‘rapist-murderer’ Antonio Sanchez was almost released.

This year, the media was not safe from any pressure, as reflected in the arrest of Maria Ressa, the banning of Rappler from covering presidential affairs, and the non-renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise, with threats from the president still looming.

But, hope still lingers within the country, and the University itself saw its fair share of bright days in the past year. The decade-long trial of the Ampatuan Massacre already concluded with the conviction of the Ampatuans in the horrendous massacre in Maguindanao. Another Aegis Juris fratman, John Paul Solano, was convicted in the hazing and death of Horacio Castillo III. It was a big year too for the España squad after the finals comeback of the Tigers and Tigresses in the UAAP Season 81 and 82 basketball and volleyball bouts.

In this year, and indeed this entire decade, Filipinos continued to prove their courage and resilience. We were able to clinch the overall championship in the recently concluded SEA Games. The country also made it big in what we consider as ‘World Cup’ of pageantry, the Miss Universe competition, after having two Filipinas crowned as champions, closing the decade with 9 out of 10 candidates entering the pageant’s top 10.

The ups and downs have been part of our lives, but the continued struggle of many Filipinos for their welfare and their lives should not be the norm. Take a look back at the biggest moments in the country and the University that made 2019 in this #TWenty, the TomasinoWeb year-end special. The country is about to close yet another year, yet another decade, and we still dream of the day when injustices end, and the dreams for a brighter and liberated Philippines in the years to come.

Padayon!

John Aaron Pangilinan

Executive Editor

 


20. Rapist Ex-Mayor Sanchez release 

Photo from BusinessMirror

Original release of convicted rapist and former mayor of Calauan, Laguna Antonio Sanchez, who was involved in the 1993 murder of University of the Philippines Los Baños students Mary Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez, was put on hold in line with President Duterte’s order to Bureau of Corrections and Department of Justice (DOJ). 

Sanchez was sentenced with seven terms of reclusion perpetua and was supposed to be released on August 20 due to the effect of Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) under the Republic Act 10592, where the prisoner’s time served in prison is shortened as a reward based on their behavior despite reports of crimes he committed inside the New Bilibid Prison, including smuggling of illegal drugs and contraband.

DOJ spokesperson Markk Perete said that the granting of GCTA is conditional and there are exclusions, such as the repeating offenders of the law. On Aug. 22, 2019, Malacañang announced that those who convicted heinous crime, including Sanchez are ineligible from the benefits of GCTA. Hazel Camba 


19. Philippines’ Miss Universe performance through the decade 

Photo by Robert Garcia/TomasinoWeb

This decade saw an excellent performance of the country’s beauty queens with almost all of the 10 of them entering the Miss Universe Top 10.

Venus Raj started the streak at the start of the decade. In 2011, Shamcey Supsup was named 3rd runner-up. In 2012, the Philippines almost ended its Miss Universe title drought as Janine Tugonon nearly won the title, but ultimately lost to USA’s Olivia Culpo.

Ariella Arida was named 3rd runner up in 2013. The next year, Mary Jean Lastimosa landed in the Top 10. In 2015, the Philippines brought home its third Miss Universe crown through the victory of Pia Wurtzbach.

Maxine Medina named part of the Top 6 the following year and Rachel Peters landed in the Top 10 of the 66th Miss Universe pageant.

Two years after Wurtzbach’s win, the crown was back on Philippine shores, following the triumph of Catriona Gray, who hails from Bicol, Albay.

In 2019, Gazini Ganados was unsuccessful in entering the Top 10, landing in the Top 20 as one of the “wildcard” semifinalists.

The Philippines now have four Filipino Miss Universe Winners, Catriona Gray, the fourth Filipina titleholder, following Gloria Diaz, Margie Moran-Floirendo and Pia Wurtzbach. Raheema Velasco


18. Aegis Juris fratman Solano convicted over Atio slay

Photo by Julius Villavieja/TomasinoWeb

Aegis Juris fraternity member John Paul Solano was found guilty of obstruction of justice and was acquitted of perjury in relation to the hazing death of UST Civil Law freshman student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.

Solano was sentenced up to 4 years, 2 months, and 1 day imprisonment by Manila Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 14 Judge Carolina Herrera.

It was Solano who allegedly brought Castillo’s lifeless body in a hospital in Tondo following the fatal hazing which happened last September 2017, claiming that he was a stranger who found Castillo’s body by the road.

Solano, however, backtracked his statements upon initially lying to the police and arguing that he had no intention of misleading the police and was afraid for his life and liberty as he was under duress. Vhey Tapia

READ: Aegis Juris fratman guilty of obstruction of justice in atios death


17. ASF outbreak hounds the country

Photo by Ina Fassbender/AFP

African swine fever (ASF) plagued the country as the Department of Agriculture confirmed the outbreak following the deaths of pigs in some parts of the Philippines last September 2019.

African swine fever is a highly contagious disease for both domestic and wild pigs, which has a hundred-percent mortality rate that can be transmitted through direct contact with infected pigs, contaminated fomites and materials intake such as food waste and garbage. Few cities in Metro Manila and nearby provinces such as Bulacan, Pampanga, and Rizal had confirmed to be ASF positive. 

According to the World Animal Health, ASF does not risk the human health. However, it resulted in economic loss to the country’s swine industry. Recently, Mekeni Food Corporation was allowed to redistribute skinless longganisa and hotdogs, which tested positive, after Department of Agriculture issued redistribution endorsement in December. Mekeni voluntarily recalled their pork-related products and submitted samples for inspection in October 2019. Moreover, Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia issued an order banning all pork-related products from Luzon. Alexa Basa


16. Renzo Subido, clutch king and Maroon killer

Photo by Christine Annmarie Tapawan/TomasinoWeb

The Growling Tigers’ cinderella run in Season 82 wouldn’t be complete without one Renzo Subido. 

Playing in his final year for UST, the graduating floor general came up clutch not once but twice against the UP Fighting Maroons throughout the season. 

While his performance in their second round matchup against the Maroons was just as big a deal as it kept the Tigers in contention, Subido’s crowning moment came in their do-or-die meeting last November 13.

With over 26 seconds left in the game and his Tigers on the verge of ending their Final Four stint, Subido took the biggest shot of his career and possibly the tournament when he pulled up for a deep triple over UP’s Bright Akhuetie that ultimately ended up as the game winner that propelled UST back to the Finals after their four-year absence and three straight losing seasons.

Although UST would get swept by the Ateneo Blue Eagles and denied Subido a championship in his swan song, his clutch performances last season have cemented his legacy among the halls of España and even if he has moved on from the Tigers’ lair, he will always be that one Renzo Subido to the Thomasian community who shot UST back to the UAAP Finals stage. Jose Rafael Ballecer

READ: No regrets for Renzo Subido this season as he wraps up UAAP career


15. Marcos vs. Robredo VP poll protest

Photo from ABS-CBN

A day before Vice President Leni Robredo assumed her office in 2016, her defeated rival Bongbong Marcos filed an electoral protest before the Supreme Court (SC), which is acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal. Marcos, who lost to Robredo by more than 200,000 votes, claimed that there had been a  manipulation of the May 2016 election results. Robredo on the same year filed a counter-protest to junk Marcos’ claim, and since then a long-standing feud between the two camps continued up to this year amid the tribunal process.

The recount of ballots in the 3 pilot provinces—Negros Oriental, Iloilo, and Camarines Sur—started last year, and this year, Marcos and Robredo with their supporters held their own prayer vigils to observe the progress of the poll protest. After causing series of public clamor through disclosing sensitive information, both camps were issued a gag order by the SC.

As of September, the official result of manual recount of ballots in the test provinces shows that Robredo with an additional of more than 15,000 votes won over Marcos. The SC, as of October, is yet to release their final decision. Coleen Ruth Abiog


14. Sandiganbayan junks Marcos’ P200-billion ill-gotten wealth case

Photo from WhenInManila

The Sandiganbayan has junked the 200-B forfeiture case filed against the family of the late dictator President Ferdinand Marcos by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) due to insufficiency of evidence. 

Despite the number of evidence that was presented by the PCGG, they also said that the Marcoses had massive loans and acquired multiple government accommodation due to overpriced projects, massive spending for personal interests such as jewelry, international trips, and international properties.

However, the fourth division’s decision by Associate Justice Alex Quiroz last Dec. 16, 2019 was made because of the failure to present a reliable and accurate copy of the evidence that is presented by the PCGG. The court said that most of the evidence presented, including a copy of the income tax return of the late president from 1961 to 1965 were photocopied and that “competent evidentiary substantiation is necessary in supporting the plaintiff’s accusation because the Court cannot simply assume that the properties subject of this case were ill-gotten.” Cherizza Bautista


13. No franchise renewal for ABS-CBN for 2019

Photo from Rappler

One of the nation’s longest running media networks might be going off air in the next decade as ABS-CBN’s legislative franchise is set to expire on March 30, 2020 with no renewal in sight due to President Rodrigo Duterte’s vow to block the franchise’s pending renewal. 

The president’s displeasure with the network first started way back in 2017 when he accused them of swindling as they did not air his presidential campaign ad in 2016, wherein threats to block their renewal first arose, and in 2018 he once again reiterated his point to shut the network down.

However, despite Duterte’s open threats, the Lopez-owned network is still set to undergo due process under the House of Representatives next year. Jose Rafael Ballecer


12. Water crisis plagues Metro Manila

Photo from ABS-CBN News

 

Almost ten thousand residents of Metro Manila experienced loss of water which is said to be the effect of El Niño which, however, it was opposed by the Manila Water. 

Manila Water’s COO, Geodino Carpio, stated that the said water crisis is because of the delay of water infrastructure projects, particularly one located in Kaliwa Dam, Tanay, Rizal. Carpio stated that there was an inadequate design of the plant’s discharge pipe which is why there was a delay on the projects. Also, Manila Water cannot keep up with the high demand of water since it has gone beyond the average level that they can allocate. 

The infamous Chinese-funded Kaliwa Dam project has drawn flak due to its cost and its possible effects to Sierra Madre and the lives of indigenous groups living within its vicinity. Cheska Imbuido


11. Rappler CEO Maria Ressa’s Arrest

Photo from ABS-CBN News

Freedom of the press and expression has also been in hot waters as Maria Ressa, Times Magazine 2019 Person of the Year and CEO and executive editor of digital media platform Rappler, was slapped with multiple cases for cyberliber, tax and anti-dummy violations. 

Last February 13, members of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) served Ressa her arrest warrant because of her alleged violation of the cyber libel act at Rappler headquarters in Makati City.

Rappler, known for its critical reporting for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has also been banned from covering any presidential event across the country. Paolo Alejandrino


10. Resurgence of polio

Photo from Public Radio International

Amid the ongoing outbreak of African swine fever, measles, and dengue, the Department of Health (DOH) on September 19 declared a polio epidemica resurgence of the disease in the country after 19 years of being polio-free. The first confirmed case was a 3-year-old girl in Lanao del Sur, the second case was a 5-year-old boy from Laguna, and the third case was a 4-year-old girl from Maguindanao.

DOH has launched immunization programs which included nationwide rounds of polio vaccination to counter the epidemic, but the vaccination coverage dropped because of “increasing number of parents who don’t want their children to be injected with the measles vaccine,” according to DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III. This was in relation to the recent Dengvaxia scare controversy following the number of deaths supposedly linked to Dengvaxia vaccine. Chief public attorney Persida Acosta was notably targeted by critics with allegations of causing the vaccine scare.

Anti-vaccine movements are not limited to the Philippines and are also reported in other countries like the United States. Recently, Malaysia, which has been polio-free since 2000, recorded its first polio case in 27 years. A report said that the “Malaysian child was infected with a strain that shared genetic links to the virus detected in the Philippines.” A small group of people in Malaysia has also been reported to refuse vaccination. Coleen Ruth Abiog


9. Rice Tariffication plagues farmers

Photo by Jio Perez/TomasinoWeb

This year, President Duterte signed the Rice Liberalization Law (RLL) or Republic Act 11203 which aimed to strengthen the country’s agriculture but also caused increased volume of rice imports that led to fluctuation of rice and palay prices. Palay production for 2019 is expected to reach 18.49 million MT, which is 15% short of the country’s annual need.

Based on the latest study conducted by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, farmers have already lost P8.22 billion in palay revenues due to the new rice law. In September, the average farm-gate price of palay reached its lowest in eight years at P15.56 per kilo due to the unimpeded importation of more affordable rice and palay rates not going up significantly since then.

Under RLL, which was authored by Senator Cynthia Villar, 10 billion pesos of the tariff collections on rice imports shall be appropriated annually for rice farmers through various programs that would help them compete with the affordable rice imports. Despite that, many farmers have called for the junking of the law and genuine land reform. Raheema Velasco

READ: Magtanim ay ‘di biro: Rice Liberalization Law backfires


8. Paskuhan 2019 draws record breaking crowd

Photo by Julius Estolano/TomasinoWeb

This year’s Harry Potter inspired Paskuhan 2019 concert drew an estimated 110,000 crowd. 

Despite storm warning signal no. 2 raised in Metro Manila for typhoon Tisoy, the opening mass, the traditional agape, and opening of Christmas decor around the campus commenced on Dec. 2, 2019 and was led by Manila Mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso. A drone show was also held in the open field, the newest addition in this year’s Paskuhan opening. 

Thomasians and other guests gathered in the open field on Dec. 20, 2019 for the fair and concert which featured performances from Thomasian talents and other famous Filipino bands and artists. Alexa Basa

READ: Paskuhan opening pushes through despite ‘Tisoy’

READ: Harry Potter-inspired Paskuhan draws 110,000 crowd


7. Senatorial Elections

Photo by Larizza Lucas/TomasinoWeb

Perhaps considered the most clamorous event of 2019, stirring every Filipino citizen and forcing them to voice out the strongest of their opinions, is this year’s midterm elections. Filipinos exercised their right to suffrage by choosing 12 senators, district and party-list representatives, and local government officials in provinces, municipalities, and cities.

Some of the highlights during the midterm elections include:

  • Senatorial debates
  • Former Manila City Vice Mayor Isko Moreno wins mayoralty over former city  Mayor Joseph Estrada
  • Vico Sotto wins mayoralty over former Mayor Bobby Eusebio
  • PDP-Laban bets dominate the senatorial seats 
  • Otso Diretso loses the election, wins the hearts of millennials
  • Binay siblings Abby and Junjun political rivalry
  • Formerly detained Bong Revilla’s senate comeback
  • Imee Marcos’ false claims on educational credentials
  • Ronald Cardema’s representation of the Duterte Youth.

Coleen Ruth Abiog


6. Isko closes down bars around school perimeters, clears Dapitan of vendors

Photo by Christine Annmarie Tapawan/TomasinoWeb

Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domagoso signed an executive order which mandated the strict implementation of city ordinances prohibiting liquor selling near school perimeters resulting in the closure of known drinking spots among students such as Tapsi in Asturias (which reopened as restaurant) and Four Monkeys Bar and Kitchen. 

Under the executive order, establishments selling liquor are now prohibited to do so to minors and bars within a 200-meter radius of school perimeters were immediately closed down. 

Apart from Isko’s liquor ban, street vendors around Dapitan Street were also cleared last Aug. 17, 2019 in a clearing operation by the city capital’s Department of Engineering and Public Works for “zero obstruction” along roads and sidewalks.  

Currently, the former locations of the stalls are being used as a private parking lot for vehicles and Dapitan, especially Asturias is now a shadow of its former self due to the absence of these same street vendors. Jose Rafael Ballecer

READ: Zero Parking Policy, hindi kailangang ipatupad—MTPB chief

READ: #TalkOnTW: Isko’s Liquor Ban near schools in Manila

READ: Manila Liquor Ban: Shantay You Stay or Sashay Away?


5. Transport problem persists

Photo by Robert Garcia/TomasinoWeb

Filipino commuters faced the gruelling problem of the country’s transport system after the disruption of LRT Line 2 service after its section between Anonas and Katipunan stations caught fire last Oct. 3, 2019 forcing to stop its service for days. This worsened traffic jams in major thoroughfares of the Metro like EDSA, Quezon Avenue, Marcos Highway, among others.

After its partial service resumption from Recto to Cubao, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made a remark denying the existence of transport crisis in the country and asked commuters to leave earlier to avoid traffic. This prompt critics, particularly the progressive group Anakbayan to make a “commute challenge” for Panelo which he accepted which took him almost four hours to get to Malacañan from his house in Marikina.

Anakbayan National Spokesperson Alex Danday stressed that the four to six hours of commute every day in Metro Manila proves that there really is a transport crisis in the country and called on  the government to focus policies and projects for having an affordable and safe mass-oriented transport system in the country. John Aaron Pangilinan

READ: The long, rough road of transport problem

READ: Thomasians join protest to demand for better, affordable public transportation


4. Isko Moreno as new Manila City mayor 

Photo by Larizza Lucas/TomasinoWeb

Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso took a landslide win as the mayor of the City of Manila in the 2019 elections, defeating the two-time mayor Joseph Estrada. 

Domagoso was the former vice mayor of Manila during Estrada’s first term, and is now the city’s 27th Mayor. Since taking his oath of office, Moreno has accomplished various programs to restore order and cleanliness in Manila. The mayor would usually use social media to update the public about his everyday activities, programs and announcements, gaining big attention from the public. He focused on road clearing operations and class suspensions.

In December 2019, Domagoso declared persona non grata the cultural group Panday Sining due to their vandalism protests in some areas of the city. Cheska Imbuido

READ: Manila Deserves A Cleaner Underpass


3. Growling Tigers, Golden Tigresses return to the UAAP Finals

After a fair share of losing seasons in recent years, both the UST Golden Tigresses and Growling Tigers capped off 2019 with back-to-back finals appearances in the UAAP season 81 and the recently concluded season 82, respectively.

Banking once more on the services of mainly the high-flying Sisi Rondina and super rookie Eya Laure, the Tigresses embarked on a campaign that culminated in a second-seed finish en route to the Final Four that saw them dispatch the then defending champs in LaSalle that set up a finals matchup against Ateneo wherein they fell in three games.

With a total of nine rookies/transferees headlined by the “probinsyano” tandem of Rhenz Abando and Mark Nonoy, former CDSL big Soulemane Chabi Yo and one-time UAAP champion Brent Paraiso and a veteran presence from the seniors in Renzo Subido and Zach Huang and team captain CJ Cansino, the Aldin Ayo-led Tigers amassed an 8-6 record that was good for a fourth-seed finish in the stepladder semifinals of the Final Four.

Come the Final Four, the Tigers went through the gruelling path of surviving three knockout games within two weeks before ultimately meeting the three-peat seeking Ateneo who swept them in two games.

While both teams may have come up short to secure the elusive UAAP crown, their return to the finals is a clear indicator of a bright future and the return of a winning culture in España. Jose Rafael Ballecer

READ: Gritty Tigers swept by dynastic Ateneo despite putting up valiant effort

READ: Golden Tigresses tamed by Lady Spikers


2. Philippines host 2019 SEA Games

Photo by Jade Moya

As the Philippines hosted the recently concluded biennial meet Southeast Asian (SEA) Games last Nov 30 to Dec 11 for the first time in 14 years, it was not exempted from critics and netizens calling out the alleged corruption and overspending of funds by the government. 

While the Philippine team bagged the most medals with 149 golds, 117 silvers, and 121 bronzes, the triumphant tale of the Philippine team also came with controversies as P6 billion budget for the event was used. 

Among those criticized was the P50 million cauldron designed by Mañosa and the faulty and inefficient logistics of the event, from the transportation and accommodation of the players to the displaced indigenous communities to give way for the construction of New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac. Paolo Alejandrino

READ: Students denounce P50-M SEA Games cauldron

READ: It’s just a two-week event


1. ‘The trial of the decade’

Photo by Genise Danga/TomasinoWeb

Ten years after the Maguindanao Massacre in 2009, the worst media and election-related killing in the world which took the lives of 58 people, its verdict was finally ruled last December 19. The massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao took the lives of 32 journalists who were part of former Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu’s convoy on his way to filing his certificate of candidacy.

The Maguindanao Massacre case was dubbed as “the trial of the decade,” having 165 volumes of records, 357 witnesses, 197 persons filed with murder charges, and eight persons who died throughout the trial procedures.The final ruling was originally set during the massacre’s 10th anniversary this year but the volume of records had to be considered so it was moved this December. Of the accused, 28 are found guilty of 57 counts of murder and were sentenced with reclusion perpetua; 15 are convicted as accessories to the crime; and 57 are acquitted as stated by Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221.

Among the principal accused that are sentenced with reclusion perpetua are members of the Ampatuan clan, which includes former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Datu Zaldy Ampatuan, former Datu Unsay Mayor Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr., former Shariff Aguak Mayor Datu Anwar Ampatuan Sr., Datu Anwar Sajid Ampatuan, and Datu Anwar Ampatuan Jr.  There are 80 of the suspects who still remain at large and are ordered by the court for arrest. Coleen Ruth Abiog

READ: Delayed justice in Maguindanao Massacre: ‘Reflection of culture of impunity’

READ: PRESS RELEASE: End impunity, defend press freedom!

 

 


May we all have a more prosperous year ahead! Happy New Year, from us at TomasinoWeb!

Board by Aldrich Aquino

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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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‘Have we really achieved acceptance?’—gender lawyer

Twenty years into the fight for an anti-discrimination legislation, gender equality and human rights lawyers stressed the need for a law that would protect the LGBTQI+ community from sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression (SOGIE) discrimination.

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Screengrab from #PrideHangouts 02: Tuloy ang Laban para sa SOGIE Equality webinar

Twenty years into the fight for an anti-discrimination legislation, gender equality and human rights lawyers stressed the need for a law that would protect the LGBTQI+ community from sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression (SOGIE) discrimination. 

“[J]ust last year, Metro Manila Pride recorded 70,000 attendees. For the most part we thought that it’s a sign of society’s increased support for the community…[b]ut have we really achieved acceptance?” Atty. Claire de Leon said yesterday, June 27. 

The Gretchen Diez incident last year, according to Atty. De Leon, “drastically” shifted the perception of the public toward the LGBTQI+ community and the ongoing fight for the SOGIE Equality bill. 

Misconceptions surfaced after the incident that was followed by a “massive” misinformation campaign against the bill. 

“[N]akakalungkot na marami ding nagbabangga ng mga karapatan natin sa karapatan ng ibang sector. Nakakalungkot na ang ibang tao iniisip nila na this bill would take away rights from heterosexuals or cisgender persons,” Atty. De Leon said. 

However, she stressed that protecting the rights of a marginalized sector does not take away the rights of another.

“[I]f you think that allowing a sector to exercise their rights would take away the rights of others, [then] we must rethink how we see rights [and] how we understand rights,” she said. 

Anti-discrimination ordinances in LGUs

The lack of SOGIE-based national laws pushed LGBTQI+ groups to fight for anti-discrimination ordinances (ADO) within the local government units. 

Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro announced last year, June 29, the passage of the city’s ADO during the Metro Manila Pride March. 

Quezon City on the other hand passed on November 28, 2014 the Gender Fair Ordinance, which was authored by Councilor Mayen Juico and was signed by the then-mayor Herbert Bautista.

Despite having implementing rules and regulations (IRRs) and ordinances, Atty. De Leon said that the process is not entirely implemented and effective. 

“May council [at] may members of the council pero walang office…[N]a-highlight lang nito na hindi natatapos ang lobbying, hindi natatapos ang laban natin sa pagpasa ng ordinance,” De Leon said. 

“Kailangan nating ma-push na meron IRRs at also kailangan nating ma-make sure na nai-implement talaga ang mga ordinances na ‘to,” she added. 

De Leon said that laws and initiatives against anti-discrimination, whether from the national government, LGUs, or private sectors, are necessary to build a more inclusive community.

“Discrimination still occurs and as long as discrimination under the basis of SOGIE persists, we need a law that would give us protection…[p]rotection must be available and accessible to each of us regardless of our SOGIE,” she said. 

SOGIE and Anti-terror bills

According to Atty. Eljay Bernardo, the “vagueness” of the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Bill can directly affect the LGBTQI+ community as a marginalized sector fighting for SOGIE bill. 

“If we request government, demand government of our rights, it could be construed as terrorism, as destabilization,” Atty. Bernardo said.

The imprisonment of the Pride20, according to him, uncovered how the law can be “twisted” against freedom of speech and assembly. 

Last Friday, June 26, 10 members of LGBTQI+ rights group Bahaghari along with eight from other progressive groups, and two drivers were detained at the Manila Police District. 

They were being charged with disobedience of persons in authority in relation to Republic Act 11332, or the Law on Reporting of Communicable Disease and Batas Pambansa 880, or the Public Assembly Act.

Atty. Bernardo said that the bill could put burden in LGBTQI+ groups, which could be an excuse to put the members of these groups under the surveillance of an anti-terrorism council. 

According to Atty. De Leon, the Anti-Terror bill could “silence all of us,” especially the marginalized sector. 

“[F]or us when activism is the only way of asserting our narratives, this can further render us voiceless. It seems like wala naman siyang direct effect, pero the dangers of it ay nararamdaman na natin ngayon,” she said. 

The webinar #PrideHangouts 02: Tuloy ang Laban para sa SOGIE Equality was hosted by Pat Bringas and was organized by Metro Manila Pride.

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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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