UST has requested the resigned adviser of TomasinoWeb to clarify his complaint against the heads of the Office for Students Affairs (OSA), saying the initial allegations lacked details and were “based primarily on hearsay and conclusions.”

In a letter dated June 4, UST’s in-house counsel Alfonso Verzosa asked journalism instructor Leo Laparan II, the former adviser of the media organization, to explain the claims he made in his April 11 complaint. 

“Upon reviewing your complaint, we note that it is based primarily on hearsay and conclusions,” Verzosa wrote in the letter, which was also signed by UST Secretary General Fr. Louie Coronel, O.P. 

“To enable us to investigate, we request you to provide specific details and particularize your complaint,” the lawyer added.

Two months after the censorship controversy involving the OSA and TomasinoWeb sparked, Laparan filed a 14-page complaint letter before the office of UST Vice Rector Fr. Isaias Tiongco, O.P.

Laparan had urged Tiongco, who now serves as interim rector of UST, to suspend and replace  OSA Director Maria Cecilia Tio Cuison and Asst. Director Ma. Regina Arriero for their “grossly abusive conduct” and “abuses of power.” 

“The actions of the OSA directors are not reflective of the values upheld by the University of Santo Tomas. I hope and pray that your good and honorable office puts the appropriate end to their abuses of power,” Laparan wrote in April. 

The journalism instructor outlined five instances where the OSA heads “unduly and illegally engag[ed] in media censorship and vexatious conduct towards TomasinoWeb, its student-members, as well as its former adviser.”

This includes barring TomasinoWeb from covering the Thomasian Welcome Walk and ordering the organization to take down a Paskuhan feedback article, a Valentine’s Day photo album, a “No To Jeepney Phaseout” publication material, and the infamous photo of College of Information and Computing Sciences (CICS) students in their Type B uniforms and entering the 7-Eleven branch in UST. 

In the response of UST, Verzosa asked Laparan to provide written statements by organization members to prove that such incidents happened. 

Laparan, also a desk editor at The Philippine Star, had stated in his complaint that the OSA heads “greatly undermined” his post as an adviser with their acts of censorship.

Verzosa questioned this allegation, urging Laparan to explain how the OSA heads dictated upon his area of expertise when he was still the adviser of TomasinoWeb. 

UST also asked Laparan to show proof that Tio Cuison and Arriero committed “consistent and continuous acts of censorship,” as he asserted in his complaint. 

The OSA’s censorship of TomasinoWeb over an innocuous photo in February sparked a controversy, causing journalist groups and Thomasian student leaders to rally behind the student media organization. 

It even led to the filing of a House Resolution seeking a probe into the “violation of students’ rights” in UST, which remains pending with the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education.  


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