EMBATTLED UST Office for Student Affairs (OSA) Director Maria Cecilia Tio Cuison has gone on medical leave, the University said in its first statement addressing the controversies surrounding the office over the past month.

In a statement posted on Facebook, UST said it had accepted Tio Cuison’s leave request and designated Asst. Prof. Jaezamie Ong, the assistant principal for student formation at UST Senior High School and a faculty member at the Department of Literature, as OSA officer in charge.

Ong will lead a technical working group tasked with holding dialogues with representatives of “recognized” student organizations and assess student-related policies and guidelines, including those specified in the Campus Journalism Act, the University said.

[UST] assures all student leaders that the University listens to its stakeholders,” the school’s statement posted on Thursday evening read. 

“The University shall continue to uphold the rights of students balanced by a strong commitment to foster an environment conducive to learning and responsible development,” it continued.

Tio Cuison’s leave of absence came almost a month since the OSA came under public scrutiny after ordering TomasinoWeb to delete a photo of College of Information and Computing Sciences (CICS) students in their “Type B” uniforms and entering a 7-Eleven store inside the campus. 

Aside from instructing the student media organization to take the photo down on Feb. 16, the OSA also directed its officers to issue a public apology.

At the height of the OSA-TomasinoWeb censorship controversy, Tio Cuison underwent a medical procedure.

Several journalists, student leaders and UST alumni had condemned OSA’s handling of the situation and called for the termination of both Tio Cuison and OSA Asst. Director Maria Regina Arriero. 

The censorship issue has reached Congress, with Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raoul Manuel filing a resolution to investigate the censorship issue and “other student rights violations” in UST. 

Manuel on March 11 filed House Resolution 1633, which seeks to investigate the “repressive actions” by the OSA and hold accountable Tio Cuison and Arriero.

UST OSA heads called out in Congress; House probe into TomasinoWeb censorship sought

“The reported media censorship and violations of democratic rights of student councils, organizations and individuals inside the University of Santo Tomas demands urgent investigation and action as it compromises the life and security of students,” the resolution read. 

House Resolution 1633 was referred to the House Committee on Rules on March 13, but a hearing has yet to be scheduled.

TomasinoWeb resumed operations on March 8 and broke its weeks-long absence from social media, following the appointment of journalism faculty member Nathaniel Melican as interim adviser. 


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