MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Two members of the University of the Philippines-Diliman University Student Council (UPD-USC) resigned on Friday, November 23, amid controversies involving their respective fraternities.
USC chairperson Yael Toribio, a member of Upsilon Sigma Phi Fratenity, tendered his resignation days after group conversations with slurs and offensive remarks attributed to fellow fraternity members went viral.
In his two-page resignation letter, Toribio said that in light of the recent incidents that rocked the university, “now more than ever, we need to unite and rebuild the trust from the student body we serve.”
“A change in leadership is called for to effectively transition the responsibility of investigating and deliberating these concerns that hopefully will bear the results that the student body will trust and accept. As such, I wish to officially tender my resignation as your University Student Council Chairperson, effective immediately,” he said.
Toribio began his letter by condemning the “abhorrent statements” in the viral posts circulating online.
“Those statements have caused much pain and insult for the various sectors and their advocates who were not spared by those foul words. These views have no space in our society, and for a long time, now, we have been fighting to change these harmful views,” he said.
“Everyone must bear responsibility for the consequence of their speech, especially when it emboldens people to translate them into actions. I cannot and will not allow impunity. I believe just and commensurate sanctions should be sought. I personally do not espouse such beliefs, and would never condone them even in private circles,” Toribio added.
He said that while he had consistently expressed his position against “intolerant and discriminatory views,” remaining in the USC would only cast doubt on the council’s deliberations regarding the fraternity controversies.
“I anticipate that doubt will loom over decisions made by this body, in spite of our discussions and deliberations, and however fruitful and legitimate they may be in light of the assumptions made on my character, based on my affiliation with Upsilon Sigma Phi,” Toribio said.
He added that his resignation “does not absolve anyone of any offense” and that he also did so “to emphasize that no position or ambition is more important than the demand of our constituents for unity and credibility in pursuit of concrete changes.”
Another student leader, Rein Gallardo resigned as University Councilor and Safety and Security Committee Head to maintain the integrity of the council, as reported by The Philippine Collegian. Gallardo, a member of Alpha Phi Beta, will step down in December.
Alpha Phi Beta and Upsilon Sigma Phi were involved in recent incidents of fraternity-related violence in campus, causing an uproar online over the safety and security of students.
UP president Danilo Concepcion had already instructed UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan to “expedite” the investigation on the recent brawl between the two fraternities.
Upsilon Sigma Phi said in a statement that it had conducted an initial investigation on the matter, and that the results would be given to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. It vowed to “unconditionally cooperate with the efforts of the OVCSA not only in gathering facts but in ensuring accountability consistent with the dictates of due process.”
Tan, however, claimed in a statement that the two fraternities were uncooperative. He said their representatives were “conspicuously absent in a meeting I called for all fraternities, and they claimed later they did try to attend but arrived late.”
Alpha Phi Beta has not issued a statement on the matter.
Meanwhile, former Cavite governor Jonvic Remulla resigned as a member of Upsilon Sigma Phi.
“The inactions of the leadership outweigh the actions, of which the members committed. This isn’t the fraternity I joined. I joined a brotherhood which made me believe in the values of respect, nationalism, and loyalty. What I find now is something totally different,” Remulla said.
On Monday, November 26, another Upsilon member resigned from the student body. Voltz Moya said the controversies surrounding his fraternity would always taint his performance as USC chairperson of UP Manila.
“It has come to a point where my best plans and efforts to effectively perform my function as your USC chairperson have been overtaken by negative sentiments, baseless accusations, and threats,” he said, addressing fellow students.
In his resignation letter, he denied allegations he was among those involved in the misogynist, racist, and homophobic group chat being linked to his fraternity.
“These have yet to be investigated fully. Nonetheless, groups tied these statements to my fraternity brothers in the Upsilon Sigma Phi, and many have even attributed some posts to myself, publicly shaming me even without solid proof and due process,” Moya said.
He also spoke out about his controversial term as chairperson. The post of chairperson remained vacant even after a general election and special election, so the USC elected Moya to occupy the post, leading some students to question the legitimacy of his term.
He said the dispute “distracted us from addressing the issues of the students and of the greater community”. – Rappler.com
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