Artlets student claims student welfare center ‘discourages rallies’

AB official says protests allowed but not encouraged
Student activists light candles to criticize what they described as “censorship” imposed on TomasinoWeb in front of UST Gate 7 at Padre Noval St. Photo by Erwin James Gianan/ THE FLAME

A LEGAL management freshman has accused the coordinator of the Faculty of Arts and Letters Student Welfare and Development Center (AB SWDC) of using her image to deter student activism.

During the Kabataan partylist’s Konsultahang Kabataan event on May 6, first year student Annie Agon claimed that AB SWDC coordinator Asst. Prof. Emelito Sarmago had displayed her photo during a journalism class lecture in an apparent attempt to discourage students from joining protests.

“[They told us] don’t join rallies, don’t speak against UST administrators,” Agon said during the event held at the Batasang Pambansa.

“His students told [us] that the picture was really being shown upfront, especially my picture that appeared during his class at journalism,” she added.

“It felt like Martial Law inside UST.”

In an interview with The Flame, Sarmago denied revealing Agon’s identity but admitted to showing a photo from social media.

“Pero hindi ko naman ata shino-show kung sino siya. Parang inano lang, parang may Facebook yata na nakita siya doon, parang sa TomasinoWeb ba ‘yun (But I did not identify her. It seemed that she was seen in a Facebook post, probably by TomasinoWeb),” Sarmago said.

The 1987 Philippine Constitution states that no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech and the people’s right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. While he acknowledges students’ right to hold protests, Sarmago said he discourages the holding of such activities within AB.

He advised students to refrain from wearing their uniforms during demonstrations, as it might “misrepresent” the University.

“Students are allowed, of course. They have the right to join in protests, but as much as possible we do not encourage it, like me, in our college,” Sarmago said.

“So wag tularan (do not emulate), meaning as much as possible, [don’t wear] your uniform while joining any activism na hindi naman siya (that is not) mandated by the University,” he added.

Sarmago noted that the UST Office for Student Affairs strictly enforces the policy against the use of uniforms activities not sanctioned by the University.

“It will be like you represented UST, like you represented the University that you are there as a student and this is your stand as a student of the University when you are wearing your uniform,” he said.

The student welfare coordinator suggested that students wear civilian shirts instead of their type A or B uniforms to avoid being associated with the Faculty of Arts and Letters.

“That’s just my concern. Because again, maybe you’re proud [and] I’m very happy to know that you have a stand to join in protests, but as much as possible, I don’t want that we are known as a Faculty as the home of many activists,” Sarmago said.

“(Not) that there’s wrong, you know. But I don’t want when you go outside the campus, for example, ‘Ah, ito na naman yung mga maiingay’ (These are the noisy ones).” F J.M. Revilla

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