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The Thomasian Way

Over at UST, they will virtually lynch you for having the “wrong” politics. But they will turn a blind eye, it seems, if you use your high university office to cover up the killing of one of its own students.

I watched with some amusement as various sectors within the University of Santo Tomas community outdid themselves in making a big deal about the award given by the school’s alumni association to Communications Assistant Secretary Margaux “Mocha” Uson. My amusement turned to anger when the same university community fell silent after the Senate recommended the disbarment and resignation of UST law school dean Nilo Divina, for his fraternity’s killing of Aegis Juris neophyte Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.

Divina, of course, is practically the mascot of UST. Not only does he serve as dean of its Faculty of Civil Law, he is also titular head of Aegis Juris and his firm Divina Law serves as counsel of the university. Uson, who “only” graduated from UST as a medical technician before leaving its medical school because of financial reasons, is nowhere near Divina’s league as far as representing the university is concerned.

And yet, this week, the Senate issued a damning 33-page committee report after thoroughly investigating the hazing death of Castillo, urging Divina to resign his deanship and recommending to the Supreme Court that it disbar him and a bunch of other lawyers linked to the neophyte’s death last Sept. 17. I asked myself, how can UST get so het up over Uson’s supposed failure to live up to the supposedly high moral values of the school for merely receiving an award that she had not solicited, while Divina – the controversial lawyer and frat head – did not merit even a small announcement from the alumni who forced the pro-Duterte blogger to return her citation?

The university community, it seems, would rather humiliate and slut-shame Uson than hold its law dean liable for the killing of one of its own students, as no less an authority than the Senate recommends. There is simply no explaining the school’s strange and distorted value system, which was on full Jekyll-and-Hyde display in the span of only one week.

Understand that Uson was only given her award for outstanding public service last Sunday. On that same day, the anti-Uson factions in the school immediately started making all the noise they could—in social and traditional media, through their school paper, in official press releases sent out by every group associated with UST that saw the awarding as symptomatic of the declining values of society and government under President Rodrigo Duterte, who was the real target of the campaign.

By Tuesday, the Senate released its report on the Castillo killing, advising Divina to “humbly resign” as dean and calling on the Supreme Court to disbar the lawyer and 18 other fratmen involved in the student’s hazing death. Not a word was spoken, in favor or against the Senate report, from a university that moved heaven and earth to recall a worthless award from a non-essential association.

I don’t know what “Thomasian values” UST is trying to show the world outside its gates here – not just in the Uson case but in Divina’s case, as well. I never attended UST, so I am not aware of what values it teaches its students.

All I know is, this week, the school that takes an awful lot of pride in being the only pontifical university in Asia, which proclaims that it teaches Catholic values such as “truth in charity,” unmasked itself as a thoroughly hypocritical, bigoted and poisonously partisan community. And unless UST acts with even a fraction of the outrage that it showed when it forced Uson to return an award she never sought, fires Divina and disowns his homicidal Aegis Juris frat brothers, that opinion will not change.

I went to a public school that never presumed to teach its students moral and Christian values like UST does. This week, I realized that I’m so glad that I did.

* * *

I commend Solicitor General Jose Calida for asking the Supreme Court yesterday to order the Ombudsman to charge former President Noynoy Aquino with homicide in connection with the Mamasapano Massacre in January 2015. Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales earlier declared that Aquino should be charge with mere usurpation of authority and graft for his role in the killing for 44 elite police commandos by Moro rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Aquino must not be allowed to make a mockery of the search for justice of the relatives of the 44 members of the PNP’s Special Action Force who were butchered after right after the implementation of Oplan Exodus, the Aquino government’s covert operation to capture Malaysian bomb-maker Marwan. Morales has no right to make Aquino get off the hook even before he has a chance to prove in court that he did not abandon the SAF 44 to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front after Marwan had been neutralized. That would be committing a new injustice on the relatives of the slain commandos after they had been left behind to die.

If Aquino is truly blameless, as he says, let him get exoneration from a court of law. If he is not, then he must suffer the consequences of sending his men to get massacred in a one-sided battle without lifting a finger to help them.

Topics: The Thomasian Way

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