MANILA, Philippines – The official student publication of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) defended itself from media outfits that criticized the former’s controversial editorial on the Reproductive Health (RH) bill, saying the commercial mainstream media “assaulted a hapless campus paper and accused it of bad journalism and unfair commentary.”
In its November 10 editorial, The Varsitarian said it was a case of “the sinner casting the first stone” as media outfits – funded by “financial heavyweights” – “piggybacked on The Varsitarian to increase their circulation.”
“By being less than candid about their funders, they have shown time and again their bias for the RH bill,” it said.
The Varsitarian added that its September editorial – which was widely criticized after it branded professors of Ateneo de Manila and La Salle University who support the passage of the RH bill as “lemons and cowards” – has made it the “most-read campus paper in the country, even shaming the circulation figures and online hits of the metropolitan news media claiming, without much mathematical bases, to have a national reach.”
The Varsitarian, in its September editorial, called Ateneo and La Salle professors “intellectual pretenders and interlopers,” saying they lacked the expertise to comment on the side effects of contraceptives. UST, however, issued a statement in October clarifying that this criticism “does not bear the university’s imprimatur.”
The publication, in its latest editorial, stood by its criticism and said it does not mince words.
“The Varsitarian calls a spade a spade, a lemon a lemon,” it said.
The paper said though that it was not only referring to educators from Ateneo and La Salle, but also to members of the academic community in UST who push for the passage of the RH bill.
The Varsitarian said that it is only expected of professors in Catholic universities to adhere to the teachings of the Catholic church, hence it is “scandalous” for them to deviate from the stand of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on the RH bill, which if passed, will mandate the promotion of artificial contraceptives and access to all kinds of family planning methods.
Attacks PNoy, business groups
The paper also criticized President Benigno Aquino III for allegedly believing that the prevalence of poverty is a matter of the poor “breeding like rabbits.”
“The President, who has an economics degree from Ateneo, betrays the business management mindset. He shows his condescension toward, nay his utter contempt for, the poor,” it said.
The Varsitarian also attacked business groups that support the RH bill, saying these are the same groups that supported the proclamation of then President Ferdinand Marcos in 1972 and the adoption of authoritarianism in the 1973 Constitution “which, incidentally, enshrined family planning as a state policy.”
“Marcos and the charlatans of business and management showed the stupidity of population control. They showed that poverty is caused not by alleged overpopulation, but by corruption, mismanagement and misguided and essentially anti-poor policies like family planning,” it said. – Rappler.com