Three alumni of University of Santo Tomas (UST) who received the Thomasian in Government Service Award on Sunday, chose to return their recognitions after the UST Alumni Association Incorporated (UAAI) justified the awarding of Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Margaux “Mocha” Uson.
Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin questioned the criteria of the award.
“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 the government,” he said in a statement on Monday.
The lawmaker added that, “If that were true, then all Thomasian civil servants should have also been given such an award.”
According to Villarin, it was “shameful and unpleasant” to accept the award when one’s actions “go against the core values of Thomasians – truth in charity as well as public accountability and transparency in government.” He further said that Uson has “corrupted the values that Thomasians hold dear.”
“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,” Villarin added.
Another UST alumni who asked for anonymity is returning her award, an ABS-CBN news report stated.
“Out of personal conviction and many others more deserving, I am returning this award for it has lost its meaning and significance,” she said
UST Highschool graduate Bino A. Realuyo, a novelist based in New York who was a recipient of 75th Founding Anniversary Award, also wished to return his award.
He commented that he accepted his recognition with pride and honor, believing in truth.
“The recent Thomasian Alumni Award recognition of Mocha Uson, a known propagandist and ‘purveyor of fake news’ at a time when Freedom of the Press is under attack in the Philippines is an insult to all UST Alumni who believe in upholding one of the pillars of strong democracies—VERITAS,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
“As a protest of your decision to support a political propagandist who thrives in attacking the highest ideals of Philippine democracy, I am returning the award given to me. Please give me a mailing address so that I may send this award back to you,” he added.
On the other hand, another awardee, Senator Joel Villanueva did not mention that he would return his award but admitted that he was ‘offended’ by the shallow criteria for the award.
“The officers said the award is actually just a loyalty award, to that effect, dahil parang ang criteriang sinasabi (because the criteria they are saying is that) you’re a graduate of UST and you work for the government,” Villanueva told reporters on Monday.
“Kung tatanungin ‘nyo nga po ako kung na-offend ako o hindi, I will be [a] hypocrite kung sabihin kong hindi kasi gano’n na lang pala ang criteria (If you will ask me if I am offended or not, I would be a hypocrite if I say that I am not, because it looks like the criteria is just that),” he added
He refused to comment on the controversy surrounding Uson’s qualifications as according to him, it may seem like he is only “getting back at her” after their word war before.
The University’s student council, its student publication The Varsitarian, and some Thomasians and alumni condemned the recognition of Uson.