AN ARTLET who accused another student of sexual assault has described the Faculty of Arts and Letters Student Welfare and Development Committee (AB SWDC) as “unfair,” saying the results of the investigation into his case were “rushed.”
In a Facebook post dated June 11, 2022, philosophy student Christopher Edo Uytico called out the committee for supposedly hearing him “only once” on a complaint he filed against another male Artlet who allegedly abused him. He said the case was dismissed after the hearing.
In an interview with The Flame, Uytico said it seemed that the office was “forced” to release a resolution just in time for the graduation. The AB held its solemn investiture on June 10 and 11.
“I just hope they did not rush coming up with the decision. I just wish I was given a chance to be heard. Because, if you notice the date on the resolution, it seemed as if they (AB SWDC) forced to release it before the graduation despite promising me another hearing,” Uytico said.
On June 7, the AB SWDC dismissed the complaint, saying it did not find Uytico’s testimony credible.
AB SWDC coordinator Asst. Prof. Louie Benedict Ignacio said details of the investigation were confidential but maintained that the committee had followed the procedures stated in the University’s student handbook. He also called on Uytico to “demonstrate civility” after failing to convince members of the committee to come up with a decision favorable to him.
As of June 28, Uytico’s online post garnered more than 10,000 shares, 23,000 reactions, and 500 comments.
The Flame has obtained a copy of the AB SWDC resolution containing the name of the student accused of sexual harassment.
Our staffers are trying to reach him to get his side. Until then, we are withholding his identity since he is a private individual.
The alleged sexual harassment happened on June 26, 2021. Uytico said he filed a criminal case at the Manila prosecutor’s office in February 2022.
The philosophy student claimed he was initially uncomfortable telling his story because of the social stigma of male sexual harassment. He changed his mind when he heard that the same person harassed his classmate.
“I was given that feeling of somewhat ‘this has to stop’. If I am the only victim, I won’t voice this out, but as time passed, I have heard stories about it (the abuse),” Uytico said.
Uytico claimed on his Facebook that the Artlet who abused him had also harassed a psychology student from another Manila-based university whom he identified as Godfrey Magtibay. This was echoed by Magtibay in a Facebook post published after the dismissal of Uytico’s case.
“We were sexually abused. By someone who we thought was a friend,” Magtibay said in a post dated June 11.
“We stayed silent because we respect the process and we respect the University as a dignified pontifical and royal (institution). Again, this is too much. Just too much,” he added.
Uytico said the experience of the psychology student had prodded him to file an administrative case before the AB SWDC. Ignacio acknowledged his complaint and scheduled a hearing, he added.
Uytico said the AB SWDC scheduled a video conference with him, a move that he thought was part of a preliminary investigation. The meeting turned out to be an official hearing already, he added.
The philosophy student said he had brought witnesses along with him, but they were “never” interviewed by the SWDC.
“When the committee was talking to me, they put my witnesses on the Zoom’s waiting room and they (Committee) told them to ‘wait’,” he said.
Uytico asked for a copy of the counter-affidavit of the alleged harasser during the hearing. He said the committee promised to send it to him after the hearing.
He said he has read the counter-affidavit, which he claimed contained a “twisted version of the facts.”
“It seems like they reversed the situation. The case is about sexual abuse; why is it suddenly ‘me coming out’? It doesn’t make sense,” Uytico said.
Uytico then sent a reply affidavit to Ignacio, who supposedly told him that he would be informed about the next hearing of the case. He claimed that no hearing was held after that message.
On June 9, Uytico received a resolution from the SWDC, stating that the committee had conducted an ocular inspection of the alleged harasser’s place. The resolution said the person’s mobile phone had also been inspected for evidence.
Uytico said the AB SWDC did not inform him of the inspection.
“Apparently, I was not there, nor any of my representatives were present. I was blindsided. I don’t know what was happening during that time like I had no idea,” he added.
While he does not think that external forces had influenced the committee’s decision on his case, Uytico said he found it “unfair” that two members of the committee hearing the case were also the alleged perpetrator’s former professors.
“Not that I am questioning their (AB SWDC panel members) character or anything, but it might be fairer if they will get another panel from another department just to clear that possible bias,” he said.
“I am not disrespecting the committee but it seems unfair to have two members of the committee from the same department, from philosophy department, actually taking over the case.”
Frustrated with the outcome of the case, Uytico decided to voice out his sentiments online because he had “nowhere” else to go. But he was quick to clarify that he was “not looking for clout.”
AB SWDC: University rules followed
Ignacio said the details surrounding the investigation of the complaint by Uytico were confidential.
“Everything that transpired during the entire course of the investigation should remain confidential unless required to be released by a court as a process of implementing laws,” Ignacio told The Flame in an email message.
Ignacio said the committee respects Uytico’s opinion and his freedom of expression, provided that he does not “cross the line” of courtesy and decency, as mandated in the University’s code of conduct. He also gave assurance that the university procedures were followed during the probe.
“Considering the confidentiality of the discipline case, we can only assure you and the Thomasian community that we, as administrators tasked to enforce the University rules, observed the procedures as provided in PPS No. 1028a of the Student Handbook,” the AB SWDC coordinator said.
PPS No. 1028a or the Code of Discipline (Penalties and Offenses) enumerates offenses that are punishable by non-readmission, exclusion, or expulsion depending on the gravity or number of the crime.
“Mr. Uytico should also learn to respect the decision of the SWDC after he submitted to its authority and to demonstrate civility after he failed to convince its members,” Ignacio added.
Uytico, through his legal counsel, has asked the University’s Office of Student Affairs to look into the AB SWDC’s decision to dismiss the case.
“I hope the decision was not rushed. It seems that because of the haste, the due process seems to have been bypassed,” he said.
Uytico is waiting for the fiscal’s resolution on the criminal case he filed against his alleged abuser this year. F – Bless Aubrey Ogerio with reports from Karen Renee Nogoy