Two student activists from the University of Santo Tomas (UST) were reportedly served show-cause orders on Saturday for allegedly joining an unrecognized student organization.
This comes after the university dismissed Grade 12 student Datu Ampatuan, Jr. as head councilor of the UST-Senior High School Student Council for joining Anakbayan-UST.
He will also not be allowed to readmit at UST and will not receive a certificate of good moral character, which is a requirement for school enrollment and job applications.
Ampatuan’s dismissal has been the subject of criticism from several netizens online. Activists have staged both physical and virtual protests to call for an end to “student repression.”
Ruth Dizon, councilor for Campaign and Advocacies of the UST-SHS Student Council, condemned the “targetted” actions of the university administration to “silence” students from voicing out their concerns.
“Ang UST ay nagpapatuloy sa kanilang mga kilos na panunupil ng mga kasamahan at konseho ng university. (UST is maintaining their suppressive actions against our fellow councilors in the university),” she said in a virtual protest.
“Napansin pa namin na ang tinatarget dito mostly mga taga-SC, seeing na ito ang pinaka-mataas na governing body ng department. (We have noticed that they are targetting members of the SC, seeing that it is the highest governing body of the department),” she added.
Dizon called on UST to respect the students’ right to free expression, despite a provision in the university’s handbook prohibiting students from joining and engaging with organizations that are not recognized by the administration.
“While it is understandable na we need to abide by the existing guidelines and policies as much as possible, it is to take note that the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines is and will remain the highest form of constitution by nature, and that’s why they must never take away the freedom that we exercise for our own integrity and for our social responsibilities by speaking out,” she said.
There are at least four provisions under the Code of Conduct in the UST Student Handbook stating that students are prohibited from joining and engaging in unrecognized organizations.
The official Facebook page of the UST-SHS also posted in December 2020 that Anakbayan UST-SHS and Panday Sining UST-SHS are organizations that are not recognized by the university.