Groups denounce UST administration’s suppression, silencing of campus newspaper

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Democratic organizations and journalists’ associations denounced the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) administration’s blatant repression and silencing of the Tomasino Web, an online media organization on campus. The Office of Student Affairs (OSA) ordered the said organization to remove a photo posted on social media on the grounds that it was “public ridicule” at UST.

A photo posted on social media on February 15 shows students of the College of Information and Computing Sciences (CICS)-UST wearing their “Type B” uniforms while at 7-Eleven, a commercial store. Apparently insulted, OSA forced the photos to be deleted the next day, when it became the focus of jokes pointing to how the students’ uniforms were similar to that of the store’s employees. OSA forced Tomasino Web to issue an “apology” statement.

As a result, Leo Laparan II, a journalist and a UST journalism course instructor, resigned as Tomasino Web’s advisor on February 19. He said the OSA’s interference and silencing of the newspaper was blatant “censorship” and he could not stand OSA’s action.

Laparan insisted this is an insult to him as a journalist which is why he resigned as counselor. “You pressured us, you forced a takedown, then threatened us with a sanction. Where should we stand?” Laparan’s statement.

In condemnation, UST students and organizations held a protest action and lit candles at the campus gate in the P. Noval section. They denounced the administration’s “media censorship”. Various organizations have also extended support to Tomasino Web.

“This recent intervention by the administration in student organizations and institutions has long been practiced by University authorities in attempting to suppress our right to political participation and expression,” according to the League of Filipino Students-UST.

The UST Journalism Society said, “this censorship of campus journalists is a throwback to the past eras of colonial rule and martial law repression and has no place in UST.”

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) insists, this is not only a form of censorship, but a blatant attack on the “integrity of the campus newspaper and an attack on discourses on campus matters.” CEGP added that publications are under no obligation to apologize for their reports and how the public will perceive them. The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines also expressed support for Tomasino Web.

All Tomasino Web operations are currently halted due to the incident.

AB: Groups denounce UST administration's suppression, silencing of campus newspaper