published October 10, 2012, MST, page A5
After Senator Tito Sotto and the Cybercrime Prevention Act—against
which the Supreme Court issued a 120-day temporary restraining order
Tuesday—Filipino netizens are venting their collective ire on something
This time, it is an editorial that appeared in the latest issue of
The Varsitarian, the University of Santo Tomas’ official publication.
The 1,565-word essay entitled “RH bill, Ateneo and La Salle: Of Lemons and Cowards” also appears in www.varsitarian.net. The headline is a dead giveaway to what the editorial contains.
The piece, after establishing UST’s unequivocal stand against the
controversial reproductive health bill, challenges its own faculty
members: If you don’t agree with the school, then you have a problem.
You must resign.
Fine, but that is not really what the editorial is about. It proceeds
to criticize the 192 Ateneo and 45 La Salle professors for going
against the Church’s teachings. “They are dishonest and do not have the
courage of their intellectual conviction….They want to have their cake
and eat it, too. They’re intellectual mercenaries, nothing more, nothing
The editorial likewise attacks the administrators of Ateneo and La
Salle for treating the RH-supporting professors with kid gloves. “What
is more appalling is that the Jesuit and Christian Brother
administrations of Ateneo and La Salle didn’t reprimand their faculty
members for openly defying the bishops. Ateneo said it respects the
academic freedom of its professors: it had nothing to say about the
intellectual dishonesty of its faculty members who are teaching in and
receiving high salaries from a Catholic institution who however chose to
bite the hand that feeds them all in the name of academic freedom.”
And because of this failure to act as good Catholic administrators, Ateneo and La Salle officials are lemons.
Indeed, the editorial declares: “Intellectual honesty and moral
conviction are in such short supply in Katipunan, Quezon City and Taft
It is irrelevant to ask who wrote the essay. There is no by-line for
an editorial—any editorial, for that matter —because it is supposed to
be the opinion of the entire publication. I would not be wrong to
conclude that what the editorial says is exactly what the University of
Santo Tomas intends to say.
It is thus the intention of UST to meddle into what is supposed to be
an internal issue between school administrators and the professors of
Ateneo and La Salle.
It also deliberately wants to say that education is only a secondary
function of a Catholic institution. Indoctrination is the primary
Finally, through the editorial, UST is saying that it is the better
Catholic institution, because all members of its community adhere to the
teachings of the Church.
But what is so Christian about lifting oneself up by bringing others down?
Some of the most telling reactions to the editorial are from the UST
graduates themselves. On Facebook, for instance, a Batch 99 BCS-Eco
graduate says “It [the editorial] has ‘prayle’ written all over it!”
On the Varsitarian Web site, “pabolanos” says, in bold letters: “As a
true Thomasian, I refuse to be represented by this editorial, by sheer
“Cfadalumni” says the writer’s tactlessness is “unThomasian.”
“Rafael” says : “If this is your idea of faith and the Catholic
church, how is it different from slavery? Forcing individuals to abandon
their common sense and just sticking to what a single institution is
“Thomasian” says: “I am confident that the University did not raise
me this way. I was taught to respect the opinion of others even if it is
contrary to my own.”
Then again, if we are talking about freedom of expression, it is not
good, too, to take down the Varsitarian, or UST itself, for saying what
it feels is right. This is, after all, UST—did we really expect it to
How the piece has turned out eventually only reflects on the
institution that caused its publication, or at least cleared the piece
Editorials are supposed to be an exercise in persuasive writing. That
this editorial has not swayed our thinking to its favor—oh, far from
it! —is the Varsitarian’s failure.