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Facebook post  by Geo Celestino, narrating how his sister ‘Yssa’, a College of Fine Arts and Design (CFAD) junior from University of Santo Tomas (UST) was bullied by the university’s Office of Student Affairs, went viral since it was posted on Jan 29.

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The CFAD student was allegedly harassed by a fifth year Engineering student in a public transport vehicle. She took a picture of the alleged offender and posted it on Twitter to raise awareness among other students and commuters.

Celestino, in his post on Sunday, said his sister was falsely sentenced after “being found guilty of falsely accusing another student of wrongdoing under letter m, p. 101, of the Code of Conduct and Discipline (PPS 1027).”

“Ang ginawa lang niya, nagpost ng picture, at nagtype ng 140-character caption para mas maging maingat yung mga sumasakay sa UV express,” Celestino wrote.

“Tapos, bigla na lang daw siya pinatawag ng UST SWD Board. Her well-meaning gesture was being questioned, and the case I mentioned at the start of this prose was filed against her.”

“She made me vow to never tell my parents. And now I see this “Notice of Resolution” requiring receipt from my parents with their signature. Now, even my parents are supposed to accept the result of this victim-blaming,” he added.

He also said that his sister was asked to take down the picture by UST’s Student Welfare and Development Board.

Two days later, on Jan 31, UST released its official statement saying that they investigated the case and the facts given by Geo Celestino do not conform with the records they have.

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“The University of Santo Tomas knows that it stands in loco parentis over the students and it has the duty to safeguard the students’ health and well-being. It has adopted measures as may be reasonably necessary to discharge such duty in order to protect its students from unfair or false accusation.

“We have investigated the administrative case involving the sister of Mr. Geo Celestino but unfortunately, the facts and evidence that Mr. Geo Celestino posted in his Facebook account do not conform to the records on file.

“The University is under obligation to maintain and keep the confidentiality of student discipline cases; hence, it is with deep regret that it cannot reveal any details of the case except to say that the due process requirements under the law and jurisprudence were observed and duly complied with,” UST said.

After UST issued its statement, two newly-created Twitter accounts surfaced stating that there was no sexual harassment happened; basically saying Celestino’s statement was false.

User @altCee said that on the day of the alleged incident, the Engineering student was just sleeping inside the public transport vehicle with his hands under his bag.

“Guy was sleeping, with his hands under his bag. Tapos come later tonight, the girl started a Twitter thread saying may nakasakay daw siyang “unknown”. Like she didn’t know where the guy was from daw and that he touched her. Tapos nagsisigaw daw siya sa UV and punched the guy.”

@altCee also stressed that the guy heard about the Twitter thread that’s why he reported it to the Office of Student Affairs.

But on Wednesday, Feb 1, the tweets were suddenly deleted, and the account @altCee vanished altogether from Twitter.

Thankfully, Facebook user Lily Hana Chan was able to take screen caps of the tweets and gathered them on Facebook and published them on Tuesday, Jan 31.

A dummy account named ‘Geo Celesloko’ (@ForGullible) posted alleged screenshots of Yssa’s original tweets after the suspected incident. The user said he posted the screenshots to prove that nothing really happened.

“Yun guy na pinicturan nya nagreport sa OSA about the accusation nyang ginawa sa Twitter dahil walang totoo sa sinabi nya,” @ForGullible wrote.

On Wednesday, Feb 1, women’s right advocate Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) denounced the UST administration for suspectedly resorting to ‘victim-blaming’ on the harassment incident.

Gabriela
Photo grabbed from Gabriela

“Instead of vowing to assist the harassed Fine Arts student, the UST administration chose to lay the blame on her for non-compliance with the “due process requirements under the law.” We found this deeply alarming, as the UST’s primary concern is the defense of due process and its reputation rather than the protection of its sexually molested student. In effect, the UST administration is emboldening sexual offenders and silencing many more students who may have experienced the same situation.”

GWP said on the statement that they met the Yssa after the Facebook post went viral and they are currently on the process of their next legal move.

“At the legislative realm, we are pushing for amendments to the anti-sexual harassment law expanding the scope of sexual harassment to include peer-to-peer offense, as contained in our HB 3691. But more importantly, we continue to advance women’s rights outside of Congress and wage campaigns to end exploitation and violence against women. We encourage victims of sexual harassment to speak up, and to join us in our One Billion Rising event on February 14 and in the commemoration of the March 8 International Women’s Day,” GWP added.

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