During his State of the Nation Address, President Benigno Aquino III took a swipe at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) for not being willing to make sacrifices.
While the president did not directly mention UST, he said a “big university” in Manila refused to build a catchment area in its premises as a solution to the flooding in Manila. Aquino added that the said university refused because their “old buildings” might be affected by the construction.
UST’s student publication, The Varsitarian, immediately responded in its social media accounts. In Facebook and Twitter, the publication posted the part of Aquino’s speech with their 2013 report regarding the supposed plan.
In the report, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) National Capital Region Director Reynaldo Tagudando said the plan was to create a catch basin under the open grounds of the University. This will serve as a storage of the flood water when heavy rains occur. After the downpour, the water will be pumped out to waterways.
The DPWH Urban Road Projects Office Director Danilo Idos was also interviewed by The Varsitarian. Idos said that the catch basin can be used as an underground parking facility during summer.
According to the report, the plan was rejected by the UST administration at it may pose security issues and might disturb the regular activities of the university. The open field is also a National Cultural Treasure, together with the Main Building, Central Seminary and Arch of the Centuries, which makes the landmarks government-protected areas.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda defended the plan during an interview with ANC’s Lynda Jumilla. In the program “Beyond Politics” Lacierda said it is not unreasonable to look out for the safety of the residents more than a “prized soccer field.”
In Facebook, Thomasians aired their grievances at Aquino’s unnecessary remarks.
Commenters called out Aquino’s ‘blame game’ and said he has no regard for culture and heritage.