MANILA, September 13, 2011—Campus journalists cried foul after the Adamson University allegedly barred the members of the Editorial Board of the Adamson Chronicle from enrolling for the first semester of the current school year, withholding the news organ’s funds, and preventing its circulation officer to distribute the printed materials.
Former Trinity Observer editor-in-chief Romina Astudillo and now secretary-general of the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines-National Capital Region (CEGP-NCR) said in a statement, the case of Adamson University is just one of the numerous cases of campus press freedom violations recorded by their office early this year.
Astudillo said that the Pamantasang Lungsod ng Muntinlupa plans to close The Warden, the official student publication of the said city-run university, because of its “subversive” contents. Astudillo cited the criticism of the paper against the policies of the current government of President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III and its stance on the collection of “college development fees.”
The campus organ of the Technological University of the Philippines-Manila, the Artisan, would now be under the direct supervision of the academic personnel of TUP as the university administration had revised its Student Code and amended some other policies being implemented by the Office of Student Affairs, according to Astudillo.
The woman press freedom advocate also said that the Mindanao State University – Institute of Information Technology has been controlling the funds of Silahis, their official student publication.
“Reports from CEGP Mindanao show that the total funds of Silahis amounting from P8 million (US$186,784.96) to P13 million ($303,525.55) alongside the censorship done by the administration,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Pillars of Negros State University and the Collegiate Highlight of the University of Southeastern Philippines are experiencing campus militarization and since Marcos’ Martial Rule, The National—the National University’s official newspaper—had remained padlocked and never was an attempt to reopen it.
“The school administrators are using the flawed provisions of the Campus Journalism Act of 1991 to pacify student publications. Many instances that the school administrators arbitrarily replace the existing members of the editorial board with editors who are under their control and supervision,” the campus press leader said.
Astudillo furthered that campus journalists are also target of extrajudicial and summary executions.
During the administration of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Benjaline “Beng” Hernandez, the CEGP national vice-president for Mindanao, had been summarily executed by the alleged elements of the military while doing a research on the state of the peasantry in the Arakan Valley, Mindanao.
Astudillo said that the United Nations had already issued a resolution stating that the Philippines’ state forces should be held accountable for the death of Hernandez, but until now, none of her killers had been arrested or jailed.
At present, CEGP has already gathered more than 320 cases of campus press freedom violations, Astudillo said.
Nonetheless, the CEGP blames the government itself for the continuous violations of the freedom of the press.
Astudillo explains that the exclusion of the Freedom on Information (FOI) Bill from the priority legislations of the current government is a clear sign of neglect of the current administration to human rights, particularly with the freedom of the people to information and to express themselves.