Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin has returned his award to the University of Santo Tomas Alumni Association (USTAAI) in protest of the grant of the same recognition to Communications Assistant Secretary Margaux "Mocha" Uson.
"I have returned my award to USTAAI this morning. Amid all the lies, vitriol and violence peddled by government officials like Mocha Uson, people will rally around the truth. I salute the Thomasian community for standing up against this raging darkness foisted as a 'new normal'," Villarin said in a statement.
Other recipients have also returned the award in protest of Uson's recognition.
Uson's fellow awardees, Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza and ABS Party List Rep. Eugene Michael de Vera, however, are keeping their awards.
"Ano ba controversy sa award? Totoo nabigyan tayo ng pagkilala sa mahabang serbisyo sa gobyerno. I cannot criticize the institution that has given me the recognition. In fact, I thank them for that. I have nothing to say with the opinions of others," Atienza said.
"If they recognize other personalities, that's their prerogative. Di naman masyado fair na maliitin 'yun. It's an accomplishment. I'm sure she can defend herself but my own award and my recognition, I thank them for that."
De Vera, meanwhile, said: "I'm very much grateful for the recognition bestowed upon us. As for the other awardees I cannot comment on that. May criteria 'yung association and the association, paniwala nila dapat lang mabigyan ng recognition 'yung ibang kasama namin gaya ni Asec. Mocha Uson."
The USTAAI has said recipients were selected for being graduates of the UST and for being in government service.
Uson also returned her award Wednesday morning amid the uproar and decried what she described as “pang-aalipusta” (insult) she has received over the award.
“Hindi ko hiningi ang award na ito. Binigay sa akin, tinanggap ko, pero para matigil ang issue na ito na isang maliit na bagay, ibinalik ko na lang po dahil sobra na ang pambu-bully ng ilang Thomasians kay sir Henry Tenedero,” she said.
USTAAI president Henry Tenedero resigned Tuesday amid protests against the organization's selection of Uson among this year's recipients of the award.