NATIONAL media outfits bungled their coverage of the resignations of top UST officials, publishing articles riddled with innuendoes, anonymous sources, and even historical inaccuracy.

Poorly written stories appeared in the Manila Standard Today last Sept. 15 and on the Sun-Star Manila website the day earlier, claiming that “mismanagement and irregularities” were the reasons behind the resignations of the prior provincial of the Philippine Dominican Province, Fr. Edmund Nantes, O.P., Rector Fr. Ernesto Arceo, O.P., and Vice Rector Fr. Juan Ponce, O.P.

But they did not have proof except the say-so of a “source.”

They even cited a supposed failure by the University to “secure the global certification recognizing its compliance with the high standards of education,” but again did not check whether there indeed was such a certification.

It turned out that the resignations were really the product of an internal disagreement with Dominicans on how best to proceed with developments in the University and the UST Hospital.

Standard Today even headlined its story “Visiting Vatican envoy sacks top UST priests,” when the Master of the Order of Preachers, Fr. Carlos A. Aspiroz Costa, O.P. came to the Philippines on his own for a canonical visit as part of his duties as head of the Dominican Order worldwide. The Holy See has its own diplomatic service, and appoints pontifical legates as emissaries.

It did not help that top officials of the University were under strict orders not to discuss the leadership change. In any case, UST never really has had an effective media relations and public information program, despite repeated calls for and attempts toward a better “public presence.”

Academic societies wrote a generally balanced story and quoted the Sept. 11 UST circular announcing the resignations, but erred when it said that UST is the second oldest university in Asia, giving credence to a disputed claim by Cebu’s University of San Carlos to the title.

San Carlos claims to have descended from the Colegio de San Ildefonso founded by the Jesuits in 1595. But historians point out that this school was shut down in 1769 with the expulsion of the Jesuits. The Colegio-Seminario de San Carlos, meanwhile, opened under entirely different owners in 1783.

UST has been run by the Dominicans since 1611 and was interrupted only by the Philippine Revolution and World War II. It was elevated by Pope Innocent X to university status in 1645. San Carlos became a university only in 1948.


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