March 15, 2019 (11:21 AM)

4 min read


To air their call for defense on campus press freedom and discuss the current state of the campus press in the Philippines, student journalists from all over the country convened for the 77th National Student Press Convention and 39th Biennial Student Press Congress last March 6-10 at the University of the Philippines Cebu.

With the theme, “The Campus Press as Vanguards of People’s Struggle for the Truth, Freedom and Democracy,” campus journalists also vie to pass resolutions to address several socio-political issues faced by the nation under the Duterte administration.

Organized by the oldest and only-existing intercollegiate alliance of student publication in the Asia-Pacific, the College Editors Guild of the Philippines vows to raise its militancy in serving the people through fearless, progressive and militant journalism.

Roles of student journalists                                                                        

With the opening of the 39th Biennial press congress, CEGP National President Jon Callueng discussed the state of campus press freedom in the country and reminded the delegates about their role as student journalists.

“Our member publications remained true to their mandate to criticize what needs to be criticized” he said.

According to Callueng, 1,273 campus press freedom violations were recorded under the Duterte administration where nearly 500 were cases of withholding of funds.

“The violations are of various forms such as censorship, meddling with editorial policies, threats, harassments, closure of student publications, suspension of student journalists,” he explained.

Callueng further stated that these acts are systemic repression of the government aimed at silencing the critical campus press.

“The aim is to silence radical students. We will never cease in becoming bastions of truth. We are not only watchdogs, but we are vanguards of the peoples’ struggles. To write is already to choose,” he added.

Also present in the event was Rep. Sarah Elago from the Kabataan Partylist who encouraged the delegates to stand up against red-tagging of student leaders.

“Ang tanging laban natin ay ang pag-uulat, pag expose para matigilan ang ganun na gawain na naglalagay sa panganib sa mga kabataan lalong lalo na sa panahon na kailangan nating magsalita, sa panahon na kailangan nating magkaisa,” she said.

[Our strength lies in reporting and exposing the truth to stop acts that put the youth in danger especially in times when we need to speak up, in times when we need to unite.]

Resolution Building

Several socio-political issues were also discussed in the convention and representatives from different campus publications raised their respective resolutions to address these issues.

Tug-ani, the official student publication of UP Cebu, called for the immediate release of the Mabinay 6 and all political prisoners all over the country.

For CEGP Mindanao chapter, lifting martial law in Mindanao was said to protect the Lumads from the military abuses.

“Lumads should be protected from all forms of human rights violations particularly militarization,” Gwyneth Vasquez, a delegate from Atenews said.

Outcrop, the official student publication of University of the Philippines – Baguio, called for adequate funding of student publications, for CEGP to oppose the defunding of student publications and to uphold true campus freedom.

The Pillars Publication of Ateneo de Naga University stressed the government’s ruthless counterinsurgency program to which, according to them, has already killed 55 civilians in Bicol.

The Catalyst, the official student publication of Polytechnic University of the Philippines called for the student publication’s financial autonomy.

A resolution called to junk the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law was authored by The Current of City Malabon University.

According to Rep. Elago, the Kabataan Partylist has also gathered the statements and threats against student activists and sent it to the commission on human rights for investigation.

“Meron na tayong 122 na resolutions sa loob ng congress na nais imbestigahan lahat ng mga kaso ng student leaders na nakakaranas ng hindi lang tagging, pero din yung threats at harrassments,” she shared.

[We now have 122 resolutions inside the congress seeking to investigate cases of student leaders who were not only red tagged, but also threatened and harassed.]

End the silence of the gagged!

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