ValMaSci students win INQskwela Debate on false speech | Inquirer News
1st INQSKWELA debate winners

ValMaSci students win INQskwela Debate on false speech

/ 05:20 AM June 13, 2022

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MANILA, Philippines — Student debaters from Valenzuela Mathematics and Science High School (ValMaSci) became the first winners on Friday of the finals of the first INQskwela Debate, a project initiated by the Inquirer Foundation in partnership with the local government of Valenzuela City.

The ValMaSci debaters successfully opposed the motion that “false speech should be criminalized” despite the heroic arguments of their rivals from Paso de Blas National High School in the Oxford-Oregon style debates held at ValMaSci in Valenzuela City.

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ValMaSci and Paso de Blas National High School were the two out of the 23 schools that made the final cut during the elimination round in May.

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After more than an hour of discussing the pros and cons of penalizing free speech, ValMaSci emerged victorious with three of them also receiving special awards — best speaker, best debater, and best rebuttal speaker.

The best speaker was 17-year-old Iver John de los Santos, who was that their team got the “negative” side of the motion on whether false speech should be criminalized in the Philippines.

During their training, De los Santos said he and his teammates learned not only the finer points in formal debates but also key controversies and jurisprudence on false speech.

“I wish that the government will implement more programs strengthening media and information literacy in the country like what INQskwela is doing,” he stressed following the debate.

Aside from Delos Santos, the other members of the winning team were Nico Sebastian Roque, who was awarded for being the best debater; Mauren Cheyenne Dijamco; and Joaquin Iñigo Castillejos, the best rebuttal speaker.

The winning team’s coaches, Maria Cecilia Atok and Edison Lalimarmo, were glad that their month-long preparation received a happy reward.

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“We were nervous,” Atok said. “Personally, I was really praying for the team to be on the negative side of the bench because they can elaborate more. There were so many materials that they read about it.”

Lalimarmo explained that as part of their preparations for more than a month, they sought the help of people familiar with the legalities and technicalities of discussions on false speech “to make sure students will deliver actual data.”

Connie Kalagayan, the Inquirer’s assistant vice president for corporate affairs and executive director of the Inquirer Foundation, congratulated all teams, as she thanked and recognized the people who helped make the INQskwela project a success.

Kalagayan acknowledged the efforts of Valenzuela’s schools division superintendent Meliton Zurbano; Winnie Tugade, the school district’s English education program supervisor; and Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian, who gave the thumbs up for the project to commence in the city.

Kalagayan recalled how she and Bianca Kasilag-Macahilig of the Inquirer’s corporate affairs department had been thinking of INQskwela from four years ago, when a study gave the Philippine education system, especially in elementary and high school, low grades in reading comprehension, especially in English, Mathematics and Science.

She also disclosed that INQskwela has already gained traction as talks are already ongoing with Pasig City, under Mayor Vico Sotto, and from other local governments.

“We are hoping Valenzuela will continue to have INQskwela in the next years because the dream of the Inquirer is not just to have an interschool competition in Valenzuela, but to have an ongoing interschool competition,” Kalagayan added.

Tugade, for her part, said the collaboration with the Inquirer Foundation was worthy of continuation.

“Since we have already started it and everybody wants to experience it, the momentum is there, let’s continue,” she said.

She also explained that the Oxford Oregon style of debate was chosen so that student debaters would be able to expound their arguments.

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