Archive for February, 2012

The unflinching stance of the campus press in the face of state repression and terrorism


February 28, 2012

Press Statement:  

Recently, the College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet has received reports from the CEGP National Office about an incident of surveillance in Catarman, Samar during the Samar-wide CEGP Convention at the University of Eastern Philippines last February 23-26.

Pauline Gidget Estella (CEGP National Deputy Secretary General), Angelo Karl Doceo (chairperson of CEGP Samar Island), Micah Susana Rubenecia (secretary-general of CEGP Samar Island Chapter and editor of The Pillar, official student publication of University of Eastern Philippines) and Darrel Tibre (staff writer of The Pillar) were followed and interrogated by suspected intelligence agents of the military on February 26, the last day of the convention. This prompted them to pass time in the house of one Guilder in Brgy. JP Rizal. While the CEGP Samar Convention had already concluded, suspected military intelligence agents conducted a “house-to-house” inquiry/inspection in the housed in the said barangay. They claimed to be looking for three campus journalists who have been under surveillance since February 26.

Just today, the local chapter received yet another report of harassment being experienced by n editor of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa’s The Warden. According to the report, recurring cases of surveillance in the said editor’s house have been recorded.

CEGP Baguio-Benguet is extremely alarmed by these reports it has been receiving in the past days. These cases are not new to us and only appear to manifest the systemic tactic of harassment against campus journalists, particularly members of the Guild which is known for its patriotic and democratic orientation. With its long, unflinching tradition of making a critical stance against the government and its anti-people policies, the Guild and its members have become targets of state fascism. Exploiting the military institution at their advantage, the administration resorts to tactics like this in order to quell the potentials of the campus press to tackle issues  rarely delved into by the mainstream media, propagate alternative perspectives on these issues and eventually, instigate the formation of an alternative consciousness among its readers.

In the increasing call of our times to get outside and express our discontent and clamor for meaningful change in the face of growing poverty, unemployment, incessant violation of human rights  and political malaise, we have seen how the youth has courageously rose to the occasion. As shown by the recent Occupy and Strike movements, the youth has actively registered its voice along with the other sectors of the country. With CEGP at the forefront, the campus journalist has also participated in these storms of protest, dismissing the old notion that the writer must stay at the middle, merely documenting the events around her.

If we get something positive out of these recent cases of harassment, it is that it shows  the status quo is being shaken vigorously and those elite few who benefit from it at the expense of the majority are more threatened than ever at the people’s rage and call for meaningful change. Still, we are not forgiving. These cases shall only be condemned and stopped. While we remain in this system where those in power exploit the majority, we shall continue writing the most critical of articles to expose the deceit and the evils of this system and those who wish to maintain it. We shall continue forging a liberating consciousness that can eventually prod our readers into decisive actions. Not even cases like these can dampen our spirits. With the unity among the ranks of campus journalists, we shall continue writing and working for the change this country deserves.

300% Tuition increase impending in Cordi SUCs: Regional youth orgs unite in call for higher state subsidy



Starting next school year, students of State Universities and Colleges in the Cordillera might be needing a thicker wallet if they still wish to continue their studies. That is after the Cordillera Administrative Region Association of State Universities and Colleges (CARASUC) ratified a proposal that would escalate the tuition rate for all SUCs in the region to 100/unit for school year (SY)2012-13 and another 20% every year thereafter until the tuition rate per unit stands on 300/unit on all Cordillera SUCs. This proposal is passed even amidst rising prices of other basic commodities in the nation.

When this proposal takes effect this June in time for the new school year, the tuition rate per unit for all CAR SUCs will be at 100 per unit. This will increase to 120/unit on SY 2013-14, 144/unit on 2014-15, 172.80/unit on 2015-16, 207.36/unit on SY 2016-17, 248.83/unit on SY 2017-18 and finally, 298.59.unit on SY2018-19.

 

Lack of National Subsidy taking its toll

In their meeting last year, the school administrators under CARASUC admitted themselves the impact of the continuing decline of subsidy from the national government to the operations of SUCs. Quoting the rationale of the proposal as stated in the minutes of the meeting: “It is vision of CAR SUCs to provide quality education to its constituent, however, the realization of this vision is facing a dilemma because of the continuing decrease in the MOOE (Maintenance and Other Operating Expenditures) subsidy and no appropriation for Capital Outlay for SUCs from the national government.”

In the budget allocation for all SUCs this year, the funds for Personal Services (PS) has been decreased by P403.3 million despite the supposed automatic increase in PS for each year, due to the Salary Standardization Law. In the region, there is a minimum 8% cut in the Personal Services. The zero allotment for Capital Outlay (CO) is likewise carried on to this year. The budget for Capital Outlay is supposedly where the funds for the construction of new facilities are obtained. All in all, there has been a 230 million budget cut from the budget of all 112 SUCs in the country for 2012. Among the SUCs in the region, an accumulated P79 million is slashed on their total budget. This trend has been started by Gloria Arroyo during her term and is continued by Aquino’s when he assumes office.

“This trend merely manifests the orientation of education that Aquino has been pursuing. Also, it shows once again that he is no different from the anti-people president he has replaced. Aquino is only continuing Arroyo’s agenda of making SUCs more “self-sufficient” and “less dependent” on the national subsidy as stipulated in policies like the Long-term Higher Education Development Plan and Higher Education Modernization Act. Evidently, these are only their guises for their actual abandoning of their duty to provide quality and affordable education to their constituents. Again we ask, is this how Aquino perceives the “tuwid na daan? If this is so, then we’d rather not join him in his crusade for short-sighted reformism,” Tracy Anne Dumalo, Chair of Anakbayan Cordillera said in an interview.

 

 Another proposal: “socialized” tuition fee

Aside from the increase in tuition fee, another proposal by the CARASUC in their meeting is the Unified Socialized Tuition Fee for CAR SUCs. As stated in the minutes of the meeting, this proposal, “is in line with the principle of social justice and narrowing the economic gap between marginalized individuals and well-to-do individuals in the whole Cordillera region, and nearby regions.” This proposal claims to base the tuition fee to be paid by a student on his family’s economic and social status, with a series of processes needed to be undergone to determine this status. Every enrolling student of any CAR SUC shall be required to submit a copy of their parents’ income tax return (ITR), list of acquired property or fixed assets and a certification from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

For students whose parents’ annual income is 100,000 and above (Class A), they will need to pay 30% more than the set tuition fee; for students whose parents’ annual income is 50,001-100,000 (Class B), 25% more than the set tuition; and for students whose parents earn below 50,000 annually (Class C), they shall pay the base amount of tuition rate. So for instance, when the base tuition rate per unit is set at 100/unit next school year, Class A students would have to pay 130/unit, Class B, 125/unit and Class C, 100/unit. These rates are to escalate as the base tuition rate per unit also increases 20% every year thereafter.

 

Patterned after UP?

It can be remembered that last 2007, a 300% tuition increase also hit the University of the Philippines System and from this latest proposal from CARASUC, one can figure out semblances. Simultaneous to the implementation of the tuition increase was the re-bracketing of the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP), first devised on 1989 to adjust the tuition fees paid by UP students according to their family’s income. From the original nine brackets, it was reduced to five in 2007. This raised doubts, especially from among the student leaders, on whether the STFAP can still be implemented as it is billed to be.

As it can be argued that the Unified Socialized Tuition Fee proposed by CARASUC is patterned after the STFAP mechanism at work in UP, this proposal can also be analyzed by the same remarks regarding STFAP.

“To begin with, this measure is not called-for as it only serves as a band-aid solution hiding the actual, more important problem to be addressed: higher tuition rates imposed on students. While it purports to foster “social justice” by asking for a tuition rate based on one’s capacity to pay, the process by which this “justice” can be obtained is already tedious, and not to say, requiring numerous expenses (i.e. for photocopying certain documents) which some families cannot afford. Moreover, as in the case of UP, the existence of a measure like this cannot be guaranteed to work in the favor of the underprivileged students since they can be overlooked due to technicalities in the process. For instance, there is a deadline for submitting the necessary documents for the tuition discount which usually work against the students especially to those who do not have the money to reproduce the required documents easily. Also, there is question in the integrity of the bracketing since there are a lot of reports stating that some students from more well-off families are able to acquire a lower bracket and hence, pay a lower tuition,” Cielo Marie Bayson of National Union of Students of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet said. “Even with disregarding these glitches, we must return to the more vital point undermining the merits of a socialized tuition scheme – this scheme shall not be devised at the first place if tuition rates are kept at a low level and farther, if only the national government allots more budget for education and prevent the need for school administrators to look for other means to generate funds for its operations,” she concluded.

 

Call for Higher State Subsidy remains

In line with this issue, different youth organizations in the Cordillera like Kabataan Partylist, ANAKBAYAN, College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines and National Union of Students of the Philippines conducted a Cordillera Youth Leaders Assembly last February 11 and 12 at Bengao, Baguio City where they invited student leaders from all over the region to discuss the education crisis and the actions they can take regarding this. In the assembly, the participants came up with a unity declaration addressed to the President of the Philippines, the Senate and the Congress condemning the budget cuts and calling to rechannel funds allocated for debt servicing and military expenditures to the budget for education, health and other social services. Twenty participants from the provinces of Kalinga, Mountain Province, Abra and Benguet participated in this youth leaders’ assembly.

 

 

SUPPORT STATEMENT FOR JESUSA PAQUIBOT from Saint Louis University White & Blue


We, the Editorial Board and Staff of White & Blue, the official student publication of Saint Louis University, affirm our support for Jesusa Paquibot, Editor-in-Chief of the Outcrop, the official student publication of the University of the Philippines-Baguio, who is besieged with a libel case slapped against her by a certain teacher from the university.

We, the Editorial Board and Staff of White & Blue, recognize the importance of campus press freedom in order for us to deliver to the student body the social responsibility of spreading the truth and letting the voices of the students be heard. Being campus journalists ourselves, we believe that campus press freedom is the core of campus journalism and being deprived of such, partly or in full and in whatever manner, is tantamount to preventing us from delivering the truth and consequently preventing the student body whom we serve from exercising the right to know.

We, the Editorial Board and Staff of White & Blue, believe that any repression of such freedom, without due reason, violates the right of students to freedom of speech and the freedom of the press which is protected by the Constitution and the Campus Journalism Act of 1991.

We, the Editorial Board and Staff of White & Blue, acknowledge that student journalists must not write afar from the truth because we have an oath towards responsible journalism.

We, the Editorial Board and Staff of White & Blue, believe that the article ‘Yupiang Yupi” does not intend to defame or malign the character, reputation and integrity of anyone in particular. It seeks to tackle pressing issues concerning students in a satirical manner, which is covered by the artistic license of the writer. Pressing issues include the repression of campus press freedom, which may include shaming student journalists who are performing their responsibilities.

We, the Editorial Board and Staff of White & Blue, deem that the letter if apology from the Outcrop was very noble and sincere towards anybody who was unintentionally distressed because of the article. The Outcrop took on the humble course of actions as contrary to what is alleged against the Editor-in-Chief.

We, the Editorial Board and Staff of White & Blue, stand that justice must be served where it is due and that fairness must be observed at all times. All sides must be given the chance to be heard and the protection of the greatest good must be upheld at all times above the advance personal benefits.

In behalf of the Editorial Board and Staff of White and Blue, we stand on the protection of campus press freedom.

(Sgd.)GRELLYN PAOAD

Editor-in-Chief, White & Blue

Loquitor Statement regarding the libel case against Outcrop


*Here is the support statement given by the Editor-in-Chief of The Loquitor, the official student publication of King’s College of the Philippines, to CEGP Baguio-Benguet for the libel case filed against UP Baguio Outcrop.

Not only that Campus Press Freedom was oppressed, as a support to the publication of the University of the Philippines Baguio-Outcrop, we hereby state that the said repression of the other party is a sign of not being fully considerate to what Campus Press Freedom implies.

Students have the right to information; they have the right to know what is happening outside and inside their campus. The campus journalists should have the privilege and the right to have a free access to all information needed from any entities inside the school vicinity and to gather other related information relevant to their articles for publication purposes.

As one of the objectives of campus journalists, we should uphold and protect the rights of the students in order to promote social, cultural and national consciousness among our co-students, this clearly states that no one should intervene nor destroy the right and privilege of campus journalists for personal objectives without a proper reason.

FIGHT FOR CAMPUS PRESS FREEDOM!

UPHOLD STUDENT’S DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS AND ACADEMIC FREEDOM!

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