University of Philippines Manila

CAS Student Wins 1st Safe in Custody Regional Speech Competition in Malaysia

Ms. Bernadette Fae L. Taroc, a BA in Behavioral Sciences student of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), emerged as champion in the Southeast Asia Regional Speech Competition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on January 20, 2024.

Delivering an impromptu speech on the question

“Can torture serve a greater good? Can torture be necessary in any circumstance?”

Ms. Taroc drew from her learning and experiences as an intern in the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), which opened her eyes to the reality of human rights abuse in the country, especially within prisons and juvenile detention facilities.

The competition, which was centered on “the passion and dedication of our young voices to transform the public mindset and reaffirm the fundamental human right that no one shall be subjected to torture,” was funded by the European Union and hosted by the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT), Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, and Cross Cultural Foundation (CRCF) in Thailand.

Ms. Taroc has pieces of advice to share with students and future achievers:

What motivated you to participate in the speech competition and how did you prepare for it?

     “I interned at Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) a few months back as part of my practicum course requirement. My time there has really opened my eyes to the reality of human rights abuse in the country, especially within prisons and juvenile detention facilities. Thus, when my former supervisor at PAHRA invited me to join the national round of the competition, I agreed right away and passed an application because the competition’s topic is something I became really passionate about during my internship.

     “As for my preparations for both the national and regional rounds, my priority was establishing a connection with the audience so that they will be empowered by what I have to say. After all, these people work in the human rights sector and if anyone had the power to bring my ideas to life, it would be them. So I really focused on finding ways to connect the issue to everyone’s personal lives and making them see that torture in custody is not isolated within prison walls but actually has effects that bleed into society and make violence and torture normalized or even justified. I also did a lot of research and drew from personal anecdotes related to the issue in order to strengthen my points and ideas.”

What is your message to other students and future achievers?

    “I say pursue your passion but in the process of doing so, do not forget those who do not have the same privilege as you to pursue what they want in life. Amplify the voices of those in need and work hard not only for yourself but in service of the interests of the masses. After all, isn’t that why we are called Iskolars ng Bayan and Iskolars Para Sa Bayan?”

Ma. Enedina Estanislao


fb twitter