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7/11 'no comment' on UST photo fiasco

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com
7/11 'no comment' on UST photo fiasco
This photo shows a the now-deleted photo of TomasinoWeb which shows a picture of students from the College of Information and Computing Sciences entering 7/11 convenience store.
Lance Bernardino / TomasinoWeb

MANILA, Philippines — The company that runs the convenience store 7/11 declined to comment on the issue surrounding the University of Santo Tomas’ Office of Student Affairs (OSA) and media organization TomasinoWeb. 

This is according to a report by the Varsitarian, the official student publication of UST, quoting Philippine Seven Corporation, the firm that runs the convenience store.

“We have no comment on this matter. We remain focused on providing convenience to our customers,” the report of the Varsitarian read, quoting the firm.

Varsitarian’s report also highlighted the mixed opinions of 7/11 employees about the issue.

This follows days after OSA ordered a takedown of a photo by TomasinoWeb showing a student in a Type B uniform entering a 7/11 store.

 

 

In a statement, OSA said that it caused “public ridicule” as the picture allegedly shows a resemblance to the uniform of the 7/11 workers. 

This led to the resignation of Leo Laparan II, the adviser of TomasinoWeb, who considered the OSA order an insult to his journalistic integrity and a form of censorship. 

The incident also prompted TomasinoWeb to halt its operation, citing OSA guidelines that stipulated that the organization cannot operate without an adviser. 

Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) and other progressive groups and individuals flagged this OSA order, calling it as an “elitist” act and a form of campus press censorship.

RELATED: Progressive groups, solon decry UST admin's photo takedown order

"We urge the same respect for and protection of press freedom for campus journalists, who face the same risks and pressures as those in the working press,” NUJP’s Tuesday statement read.

In response, UST Public Affairs said that  “collaborative efforts are being undertaken to resolve the matter."

On February 21, through a signature campaign, UST alumni called for the end of campus repression. As of writing, there are 939 signatories in the petition which comprise UST alumni, journalists and media practitioners.

RELATED: UST alumni call for end to campus repression

Philstar.com also reached out to Philippine Seven Corporation for a comment about the issue, but they have yet to reply. 

Show-cause order

On February 23, OSA issued a show-cause order against a student-activist who led a protest in support of TomasinoWeb on Monday evening.

 

 

In a press release by Panday Sining-UST, the OSA has issued a show-cause order against Reven Racelis, a Philosophy student from UST, for joining an organization not recognized by UST.

It could be recalled in 2021, the administration of UST Senior High School also issued a show-cause order against a student who is a member of the organization Anakbayan. He was then denied readmission for being in “illegal organizations, in sororities/fraternities that are prohibited by the University or not officially recognized by the university (UST).”  

But despite the threat of penalties, Racelis said that she is “proud” of being “targetted” by the university administration as it shows the “proof” of her speaking out against “student repression.”

“To be targeted by the UST admin is a brand of progressiveness—proof that I spoke out against the student repression in UST, rebelled against state fascism, and stood with the basic sectors in the fight for national democracy,” Panday-Sining UST’s statement read, quoting Racelis. 

“At sa patuloy niyong pagpapatahimik sa amin, lalakas at lalakas ang boses ng mga Tomasinong natututong lumaban at paglingkuran ang sambayanan,” it added.

(And with your continued efforts to silence us, the voices of Thomasians learning to fight and serve the community will grow louder and stronger.)

In a separate statement, Anakbayan National Chairperson Jeann Miranda called this move by the OSA a student “repression.”

“Imbes na pakinggan yung mga estudyante, ang reply niyo samin, represyon?” Miranda said in a post in X (formerly Twitter.)

(Instead of listening to the students, your response to us is repression.)

Meanwhile, Rep. Raoul Manuel (Kabataan Partylist) condemned the move by OSA, saying is a violation of freedom of expression and academic freedom.

“Apela po namin sa lahat ng administrador: hindi makakatulong sa krisis sa edukasyon ang lalong pagtapak sa kritikal na pag-iisip ng mga kabataan. Sa halip na patahimikin ang Thomasians na nakikiisa sa TomasinoWeb, pag-usapan po natin ang isyu at ang umiiral na mapanupil na sistema sa kampus,” Manuel said in a message to Philstar.com.

(Our appeal to all administrators: further stifling the critical thinking of the youth will not help in the education crisis. Instead of silencing Thomasians who are in solidarity with TomasinoWeb, let us discuss the issue and the prevailing oppressive system on campus.)

He also said that Kabataan Partylist is looking to file a House Resolution to investigate the incidents of alleged violations of the rights of the students in different universities. 

Philstar.com repeatedly reached out to the UST Secretary-General and the OSA for comment about the issue, but they have yet to reply.
 

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