UST ALUMNI Association Inc. (UAAI) president Henry Tenedero resigned while Alumni Relations Director Cherry Tanodra took an “indefinite sick leave” on Jan. 23 following the furor over the government service award given to Palace Communications Assistant Secretary Margaux “Mocha” Uson.

In a statement, Tenedero apologized to UST Rector Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P. and to alumni and students for the public outcry over the “recognition” given to Uson, a Medical Technology alumna and die-hard supporter of President Duterte who has gained infamy for allegedly spreading fake news.

“I’m taking the pains — kaliwa’t kanan [na] suntok. You know, pag ikaw ay na-bash, pati pamilya mo nasasama, masakit pero as I said that’s part of being a president,” Tenedero told the Varsitarian.

Dagohoy earlier said he did not know UAAI had decided to give an award to Uson for her service in government.

“We were not informed by [the UAAI]. The only invite that I received was to officiate the Mass in the [morning], which I fulfilled,” Dagohoy told the Varsitarian in a text message.

The UAAI’s board of trustees, however, did not revoke the award for Uson, along with similar awards to other alumni given the “Thomasian Alumni in Government Service” plaque.

“It was unanimously approved…not only for Mocha but for the whole. Because remember, there were 20 recipients…so we’re not focusing on that particular person but on [all] recipients,” Tenedero said.

Uson returned the award on Jan. 24 to the alumni association through her assistant following the uproar.

In an interview with the Malacanañang Press Corps, Uson urged the public to stop bullying Tenedero.

“Tama na ‘yung pambubully sa kanya… Ako nalang ang i-bully niyo, ako na lang murahin niyo, wag na si Sir Tenedero,” Uson said.

A source told the Varsitarian that UAAI vice president John Simon, who was appointed acting district collector at the Bureau of Customs last December, nominated Uson as one of the recipients of the award.

Simon did not resign.

Meanwhile, Tanodra, according to the alumni affairs office, took an “indefinite sick leave.”

A campus official said Tanodra would be on leave “up to the end of her term.”

Uson’s award condemned

The unexpected award feting Uson as an outstanding alumna of the University was roundly condemned by Thomasians.

In a strongly worded statement posted on Facebook the Central Student Council said Uson “does not, in any way, embody the ideals of a real Thomasian.”

“We express our dismay over this event as Mocha Uson does not, in any way, embody the ideals of a real thomasian, [Uson] does not deserve an award that was supposed to be meant solely for outstanding thomasian alumni,” the statement read.

On Facebook, award-winning writer Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, who heads the UST Creative Writing Center, said she would have been “shocked and ashamed” over Uson’s award had she attended the ceremonies.

Henry Barrameda, a former Varsitarian editor in chief, said the alumni association “must be in dire need of support from the government” to fete Uson.

“You have just made me really ashamed to be a Thomasian. In what universe can that fake news queen be even remotely outstanding?” Gigi Bautista Rapadas, former Varsitarian editor in chief, posted on Facebook.

“My dear university, help me understand why we honor a fake news peddler?” Raymond John Naguit, Nursing alumnus who was also named among the top ten outstanding students in the Philippines, said in a tweet.

UST Simbahayan Director Mark Anthony Abenir said  the lack of criteria to bestow Uson with a government service award is a “material fallacy.”

Alumni return awards

Akbayan Representative and Arts and Letters alumnus Tom Villarin, a co-awardee of Uson, said he was returning the award in protest.

“I am returning the Thomasian in Government Service Award given to me last January 21 by the UST Alumni Association because I refuse to buy into their recent justification for awarding Mocha Uson that one only needed to be a graduate of our Alma Mater, and be part of government. If that were true, then all Thomasian civil servants should have also been given such an award,” the statement read.

Villarin said Uson’s actions go against the Thomasian core values such as “truth in charity” and public accountability and transparency in government.

“Uson is a purveyor of fake news, an unrepentant violator of ethical standards in journalism, and a free-flowing fountain of foul language and obscenity. Indeed, she has corrupted the values that Thomasians hold dear,” the statement read.

Former Department of Health Secretary Dr. Carmencita Noriega-Reodica, who received The Outstanding Thomasian Alumni (Total) award in 1997, said she would return the award as it had already “lost its meaning and significance,” she said in a Facebook post.

Acclaimed Filipino-American novelist Alvin “Bino” Realuyo, UST High School alumnus. expressed intention to return the Total award he got in 2003 in protest.

In a forwarded email to the Varsitarian, media scholar Crispin Maslog, a magna cum laude graduate of the defunct UST Faculty of Philosophy and Letters (Philets) and a former news editor of the Varsitarian, expressed intention of returning his UST diplomas and Philets Award in protest of the award given to Uson.

“I am refusing my award to show my objection to the award to Mocha who is the champion of fake news and character assassination on the Internet… Pwede ba isauli ko ang aking mga diplomas?” Maslog said.

Aside from Uson and Villarin, the government service award were given to Sen. Joel Villanueva, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez, Buhay Partylist Rep. Jose “Lito” Atienza Jr., Senate Secretary Lutgardo Barbo, Court of Appeals Justice Amy Lazaro Javier, among others.

The government service award, a first of its kind, was given to Uson and more than a dozen other alumni during the association’s homecoming on Jan. 21 at Buenaventura Garcia Paredes, O.P. Building.


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