We, from the youth wing of Akbayan party welcome the decision of University of Santo Tomas Theology Professor Aguedo Florence Jalin to surface and own up to the issue of “troll anti-reproductive health messages” made at our party’s fan page by certain UST students allegedly in exchange for extra grades. While we believe the decision to come out was the result of the students’ strong demand for the “architect” of the questioned action to surface, we nonetheless welcome Jalin’s decision to go public and face the music. His formal admission as attested by a letter he sent to Akbayan youth through our blog (akbayanyouth.wordpress.com) confirmed many things.
First, he admitted that all the students from the identified classes were his confirming that there was indeed a concerted effort to post/flood Akbayan’s fan page with troll messages. He also admitted that the action’s objective is to “bring across the message of opposition” to the RH bill disproving previous contentions that the students were merely exercising their right to register their opinion on the issue.
Second, he admitted that the messages were specifically “designed” “to show consistency of thoughts” saying they were based on Circular No. 2010-31 issued on 26 July 2010 by His Emminence Bishop nereo P. Odchimar, DD, the president of CBCP. Nowhere in Jalin’s letter did it say that he provided or urged his students to read the proposed reproductive health bill filed before Congress before formulating their own opinions on the issue.
Again, this proves another important point. It proves that the “anti-RH messages” made at Akbayan’s fan page were not random, spontaneous and/or unrestrained from undue influence. It proves our long held postulation that many of the posts made by alleged anti-RH UST students used the same template and arguments, which we asserted resulted to an influx of anti-RH statements devoid of new dimensions and perspectives.
Third, Jalin virtually admitted to the charge that he gave incentives to students in exchange for the posting of anti-RH messages. He defended this as an “age-old system that he claimed to have originated “with the birthing of universities and other educational institutions.”
Fourth, his decision to decline our invitation to a debate over the merits of the reproductive health bill exposed his intellectual dishonesty. He would rather hide behind the backs of his students and treat them as transmission belts of his own opinions than articulate it on his own. The platform of discourse would have been a good venue for him to redeem his reputation as a member of the academic community. Yet, his utter disdain for debates on a very important issue such reproductive rights squandered this opportunity.
Nonetheless, we thank Jalin for saving us the time in clearing many of the things surrounding this issue. It confirmed that he abused his position as a teacher. He privileged a certain position over another, and hindered the development and expression of a counter-opinion on the issue at hand.
We also fear that he obstructed free opinion in the school, which he is supposed to foster and develop as a teacher. More so, he deployed and misused his position and power as an educator by taking advantage of his asymmetrical power relations over the students to extract fake consensus and/or opinions using extra grades as an enticement.
Again, we reiterate, the students are not at fault. This is also not an assault against the UST institution. The core issue here is Professor Aguedo Florence Jalin and his unwarranted action to orchestrate a cheap and desperate plan to oppose the reproductive health bill. At the very least, Jalin must issue an apology to the UST community and all the students belonging to the said classes who were undeservedly dragged into this controversy.
To his fate and stature as a member of the broad academic community, we leave the decision to the hands of the UST administration, which we hope will act in an impartial and judicious manner. Jalin’s unethical and irresponsible conduct as a teacher reflects badly on the university. We would like to believe that Jalin is but a minority in a university that professes faith to the teachings of St. Tomas Aquinas. We also would like to believe that the university’s faculty population does not share his perspectives.
Lastly, we encourage dialogue and free exchange of perspectives on the issue of the reproductive health bill based on well-grounded arguments, postulations and dispassionate discourse. The goal of discourse is to deepen our understanding of an issue’s different facets and hopefully, arrive at sound decisions and conclusions to better our lives. ###
Letter of UST Theology Professor Aguedo Florence Jalin to Akbayan youth.
I am the professor of theology you are referring in your lengthy discourse about certain professors. And the classes you categorically named were my classes. First, I appreciate with much intense your effort in analyzing the efforts we have done. It only proved we, my students and I, have achieved what we are dearly hoping – to bring across the message of opposition to: 1) the “valentine’s day activity” your group decided to take up and 2) the RHBill. Indeed, it takes a lot of time to put into the foreground what you wanted- to have safe sex and the passing of the Bill, that you have to go out and meet everyone and give them pabaon (…condom).
The messages you have received were not “ill-informed stances” as you have succinctly termed. Instead they were designed to show consistency of thoughts. My students and I are simply echoing the very contents of Circular No. 2010-31 issued on 26 July 2010 by His Emminence Bishop nereo P. Odchimar, DD, the president of CBCP. This document is the CBCP’s Pastoral Exhortation on Proposed Bills on Sex Education and Reproductive Health which highlights the need to SECURE OUR MORAL HERITAGE: TOWARDS A MORAL SOCIETY. The Letter mentioned two timeless and simple but profound truths:
1. At the foundation of moral society is a central religious truth- our divine origin and our divinely-given identity as persons, and
2. Real corruption is moral and spiritual corruption. The rejection or disregard of morality and religious belief is at the core of corruption. Moral and spiritual corruption breeds its kind in other spheres of life- political, social, and economic.
In the academic world, we carefully mold and filter the knowledge we impart because that is part of our Code of Ethics as rabbi. We guide our students toward the narrow-road which is the road-less-traveled. Even the giving of incentive(s) is an age-old system that originated with the birthing of Universities and other Educational Institutions. Great thinkers like St. Thomas Aquinas came to be primarily due to their mentors who did everything to open their minds with the societal affairs.
With regard to your invitation for a debate, allow me to make a comparison. In the olden times, duel or in our term ‘square tayo” was the best manifestation of manhood but now, being a provider and a true father to your family or respecting and not hurting women are manifestations manhood and of being a real man. Debate, as you and I fully know, showcases arrogance more than clarity of the issue. This is what is clear to me –we both know where we stand.
And if the 2 bishops (Bishop Bastes and Bishop Odchimar) mentioned in the Philippine Star News, Friday, February 4, 2011,p.8, explicitly stated: “We bishops are willing to be imprisoned together with our priests and protest the immoral things “, then I will express the same mind- imprison me and my students.
As Thomasians we commit ourselves to the cause of truth. Thank you for your time, I am Sir Agui.