UST admin draws flak over TomasinoWeb photo takedown

UST admin continues to draw flak for TomasinoWeb photo takedown

/ 01:45 PM February 20, 2024

UST admin continues to draw flak over TomasinoWeb photo takedown

The takedown of this controversial photo from the social media pages of TomasinoWeb continues to draw flak for the University of Santo Tomas (UST) administration. Several groups say the alleged action of  UST’s Office of Student Affairs (OSA) to order the removal of the picture online is tantamount to “censorship and repression.” Photo from TomasinoWeb.

MANILA, Philippines — More groups criticized the University of Santo Tomas (UST) administration for purported curtailment of press freedom due to the takedown of a “harmless photo” on the social media pages of TomasinoWeb.

UST’s Office of Student Affairs (OSA) allegedly ordered the removal of the picture published by the digital media organization as it supposedly earned “public ridicule” from the students of the College of Information and Computing Sciences (CICS).


The photo posted on TomasinoWeb’s official social media pages on February 15 showed two CICS students entering a convenience store. The students’ uniforms appeared to resemble the uniforms of the convenience store crew.


READ: Campus journalism: Don’t limit to schools, promote as ‘alternative media’

On Tuesday, the UST Journalism Society pointed out that the event “speaks volumes about official culture in the university.” For the organization of journalism students and graduates, the photo was neither harmful nor dangerous and most probably just meant to appeal to wholesome humor.

“That such a harmless photo became a source of vexation within certain quarters on campus speaks volumes about the official culture in the university. As public reaction to the issue has shown, this is not how to protect or even burnish the university’s image,” the UST Journalism Society said in a statement.

Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel also denounced the OSA. In a February 17 post on X (formerly Twitter), he deemed OSA’s action as “censorship and repression.”

“Sumusobra na itong OSA ng UST. From censorship to repression of student orgs and activities. Parang nasa dark ages itong mga nasa OSA,” he wrote.

(This OSA of UST is too much. From censorship to repression of student organizations and activities. It’s like those in the OSA are in the dark ages.)


READ: The fire of campus journalism

Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) said, “Any imposed takedown, especially over an imagined slight and not because of a factual or ethical lapse, erodes press freedom and the independence of the press.”

“The Catholic school should instead uphold the dignity of work and honor the workers’ contributions to the Philippine society.”

“We urge the same respect for and protection of press freedom for campus journalists, who face the same risks and pressures as those in the working press,” the NUJP also said in a statement issued on Monday.

In an official statement on February 16, after the picture was removed from the platform, TomaisnoWeb said: “The organization was told that the photo has become a source of public ridicule towards CICS students, their College, and the University as a whole due to the supposed association of the CICS Type B uniform with the convenience store’s employee uniforms.”

It added, however, that they did not intend to cause any harm when they posted the photo on social media.

Philippine Star editor Leo Laparan II resigned as TomasinoWeb’s adviser on February 19, placing TomasinoWeb’s publications on its social media pages on hold.

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TAGS: Censorship, press freedom, Social Media, UST

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