Archive for the ‘Statements’ Category

Support Statement for PNU’s The Torch: Kung ayaw niyong matulog, kayo ay magpatulog; kung wala na kayong makain, magpoprotesta rin kayo

Here goes again the status quo, menacing those who seek to usher in an alternative order of things. Always this resort to desperate measures, always this resort to desperate measures.

The Torch, the official publication of the Philippine Normal University-Manila is currently under the attack of an individual supposedly part of one political organization in PNU, the Student Union and Leadership Onwards (SULO). The most glaring of this individual’s accusations on The Torch is that the student publication “uses the funds of the students to propagate the ideologies of their communist-led party-list groups.”

The Torch, a student publication that recently marked its 100th year of existence, already provided a substantive response to these accusations by Nadora.

There are other issues though that this event has opened up. Even prior this event, a lot of other progressive organizations, campus publications included, has been red-tagged (read: labeled as ‘communists’) systematically under the Oplan Bayanihan policy of Pnoy which works to repress critical elements in the society since being tagged as a ‘communist,’ as an ‘enemy of the state’ makes an individual or organization a justified target of various forms of human rights violations, the most extreme form of which is political killing. This policy embodies a bloodier version of how Zizek described the response of the powers-that-be to the people’s ‘hysterical’ cries, if not recurring complaints: “Say it in my terms or shut up!” What is at work in Oplan Bayanihan is less accommodating, less pretentious: “Do not say anything against me or I will execute you!” Such is the evil of Oplan Bayanihan. You can only relish democracy if you are in agreement with the status quo. If you are critical, democracy cannot be for you.

Going back to the case of The Torch, what is interesting here is that instead of the government using a more systematic approach, we have here an individual, a representative of a certain political organization red-tagging by her lonesome a student publication that has been existing for over a century, a publication whose enduring existence must be enough to speak for its credibility and relevance. At this point, we should ask, what could be the motive of this individual in making such accusations? While the government’s Oplan Bayanihan exhibits their intolerance of contrary elements in their beloved status quo, what then is this individual trying to accomplish in her tirade?

In their position paper regarding this matter, The Torch Publication made a suggestion already:  “But never has it been aggressively brought in the middle of a political arena to be a subject of vilification and defamatory statements.” To contextualized, it is during the heat of the Student Council Elections in PNU when Nadora blurted out her concerns about The Torch. Moreover, as abovementioned, Nadora is part of the SULO Party, one of the political parties vying for seats in the PNU Student Council. But this is not all. In her Facebook, Nadora calls on Akbayan personality Risa Hontiveros “kasama,” and hence, making clear the political affiliation of the former.

How then should we approach this matter: Red-tagging being committed not by the government but some other elements. Notably, UP Baguio Outcrop, another student publication also experienced such red-tagging. During their exhibit during the Human Rights celebration last December where they featured stills from the Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket to express their opposition to the ROTC program revived in UP Baguio, they set up a feedback area where students can pitch in their comments and reactions. One comment in the feedback tagged the Outcrop as “commies,” a cuter term for ‘communists.’ The speculation is that this comment was made by one of the ROTC people.

This is where we can bring in the idea of class analysis, one of the esteemed interpretive lenses provided by Marxist criticism. The “class” in this class analysis is not only constituted by one’s role in the economic production of a society, it is also determined, and this one is often overlooked, by one’s position with regards to the status quo: that is, if one is in favor of or against it.

Coming from this, things can have more lucid sense: The SULO party to which Nadora belongs seems to be affiliated with the Akbayan partylist, one of the more obvious underlings of the Pnoy regime. It is therefore hypocritical to accuse one of “propagating the ideologies” of certain partylists when one is also involved in such act. And as if there is someone or something outside ideology today. From the food we eat, the movies we watch, the things we do in our lives are all in a way, influenced by ideology. Having enjoyed a certain political advantage because of their relationship to the current regime, the SULO Party and the bigger Akbayan bloc to which it is part of can be said to be reactionary; that is, preservative, if not protective of the status quo.

In the case of UP Baguio Outcrop, the accusations are supposedly hurled upon them by members of the ROTC people which as such expectedly carries with them the ideology of the status quo. Their interest, as ‘reserves’ of the Philippines Army is to protect the government by monitoring the activities of the ‘enemy,’ if not outwardly suppressing such activities.

These two parties – the SULO Party representative of the Akbayan bloc and the ROTC people – are banking on the dominant conception of “communism,” “being red” in flinging these “negative” attributes to the student publications they attack. In the current scheme of things, these ideas have resonated in a bad light precisely because these are ideas that threaten the status quo. Again, this only confirms that both the SULO Party and the ROTC people are in favor of the status quo.

But there is nothing wrong to believe in communism, we say. There is nothing wrong to believe in, and more vitally, to work for a state of things different from the current one – an alternative state of things where there is equality and justice for everyone, where everyone can go to school, where everyone can get proper medication when they are ill, and where everyone can have an occupation to feed herself and her family and more importantly, to harness and hone her talents and skills.

Before the gay rights movement, the homosexuals cowered in calling themselves out, in asserting their (homosexual) identity. They were being derogated as “queer.” But then they started to appropriate this very term used to denigrate them and collectively, they huddled under this term, queer, and used it as a counterattack, a statement of pride and ownership. By doing that, they only proved that there is nothing wrong with being queer, with being homosexual. This is also the challenge for those who fight against the current, oppressive system. They must “struggle over the sign,” as Bakhtin puts it. They must embrace these terms thrown at them: “activist,” “enemy of the state,” “leftist” and infuse them with a new meaning, change them from demonizing to proactive ones.

Lastly, if one thinks this is youthful idealism talking once again, we say: what is wrong with such idealism? In “The Affirmative Character of Culture,” Marcuse invokes Hegel’s protest against the “degradation of the idea” against “playing officiously with the mind as though it were an object that has nothing to do with human history.” Hegel protests against this severing of the idea from material existence, for such move eliminates the potential to think beyond the system, to think and imagine an alternative better than the current one. But certainly to imagine a better alternative is easier than actually working to birth that alternative. Maybe this is why there is this infectious repulsion on “going against the system.” Raymond Williams says it well, an alternative will not be simpler than the current one, “imagine daily life and the organization of a society wherein human beings are fully in control of their own destinies, makes demands on the mind which are forbiddingly difficulty for subjects of the present ‘administered world’.”

Maybe the current system has become too comforting to most of us and so it is hard to imagine “a better one.” But as in the idea behind “Kung ayaw niyong matulog, kayo ay magpatulog,” nothing can stop the activists, the leftists, the ‘enemies of the state,’ especially not those who refuse to join them in their cause, from crying foul over a system that continues to impoverish and oppress the Filipino people. The same way as “Kapag inantok kayo, matutulog rin kayo,” we say here: “Kapag nagugutom na kayo at ang pamilya niyo at hindi nyo na mapagkasya ang kakarampot niyong sweldo sa pag-ko-call center o kung anuman sa pag-aasam nyo ng mga latest na gadgets, magpoprotesta rin kayo sa sistemang ito.”


Outside Kafka dwells the collective resistance of the people: a statement against the harassment of student leaders and campus press freedom violations

One day in Franz Kafka’s The Trial, Joseph K. woke up just to find out that he was under arrest for a crime he – and even his arresters! – could not identify. Outside the Kafkaesque world where the bizarre is rational and the rational unusual, violations of rights are being committed but accusing fingers are being vehemently directed and names are being explicitly called. Just as the rights violators are direct in taking charge of the “criminals;” the “criminals,” unlike Kafka’s Joseph K. are unflinching in condemning such malicious accusations from their tormentors.

It was January 18 when Marben Panlasigui, Governor of the Student Council School of Humanities (SoH), was harassed by SoH Dean Lilian Gandeza. As reported in this statement by Anakbayan Cordillera, Gandeza accused Panlasigui of commanding the underground movement Kabataang Makabayan. Gandeza also questioned Panlasigui’s effectiveness as a leader and warned him to beware for the SLU Administration can trace his activities. Notably, Panlasigui is a member of the youth organization Anakbayan, an organization known for its consistent campaign not just for the rights and welfare of student but also of the greater people. By conducting activities that raise the awareness of the community to issues like Tuition and Other Fees Increase, Anti-Student Policies, Oil Price and other basic commodities’ hikes among others, Anakbayan continually achieves its objectives of educating and mobilizing the people in relation to the issues that affect them.

In the incident involving Governor Panlasigui and Dean Gandeza, we can see the clash of interests which underlies Gandeza’s assault on Panlasigui. It is the classic and recurring tale of the powerful and privileged playing on their subordinates. This is only symptomatic of a larger scheme of things which manifests itself in a lot of venues in a lot of ways. In schools, the press freedom of campus publications is being violated. The former Editor-in-Chief of UP Baguio Outcrop is still facing a libel case filed by a Professor in the University for a lampoon article. This is almost Kafkaesque, but Kafkaesque does not exactly mean utterly ridiculous, if not foolish. The Loquitur of the King’s College of the Philippines is still chained to an Administration-appointed adviser who meddles with the internal affairs of the publication. The operations of school and college-based publications in SLU and BSU are hampered by inadequate facilities. In the society at large, the Aquino administration sanctions the Oplan Bayanihan which is merely a sanitized name for the ‘legal’ silencing, prosecution, if not extirpation, of anyone who questions or criticizes the government. Even media practitioners whose job is to tell the truth about the things happenings in the community are not spared of this self-serving program by Aquino. As of November last year, at least 24 journalists have been killed in Aquino’s term. When he banked on the rhetoric of the “tuwid na daan,” Aquino did not reveal all; he did not tell us the “tuwid na daan” is a road filled with blood.

This scheme of things – where a progressive student leader like Panlasigui is being harassed by a school official, supposedly its ally in protecting the rights of students — is in effect because the powerful does not want anyone to have the proper venues to voice out its concerns, criticisms and recommendations.

This scheme of things – where campus journalists, supposedly the mouthpiece of the students, are being charged with libel cases and not being provided with the necessary equipment for their operation — is taking effect because the powerful does not want to mold critical, curious, proactive and independently thinking individuals.

This scheme of things – where the government itself not only condones but initiates the massacre, be it physical or spiritual, of its people – is in effect because the privileged and the powerful will try in all its might to keep the status quo where they rule and benefit at the expense of the larger people.

At the end of Joseph K.’s “trial”—a truly befuddling, if not senseless, or maybe philosophical one, Joseph K. was left musing about everything that just occurred to him.  Until the end, he did not know what he has done for his tormentors to do what they did just do to him. Good thing we are not in Kafka’s universe. For while the powers-that-be are trying us, trying how far our being vigilant, our being critical, our being revolutionary can go, we have the benefit of understanding the systemic origin of this “trial.” We shall not find ourselves merely musing about this hopeless fate at the end. This is not a hopeless situation we are in, after all. This is not the pages of Kafka. With our collective strength and efforts, we can put an end to this system where the powerful few are exploiting and tormenting the greater populace.

Four years after the Maguindanao Massacre, impunity still on the loose; to “never forget,” proven not enough

It has been four years. It has been four years and impunity is still out in the open, catching fire and continually protecting the powerful from the comeuppance they should eat after ignoring and violating the rights and interests of the people.

The Maguindanao Massacre should always haunt us. It should haunt us while we are reading the newspapers at breakfast. It should haunt us while we watch Jessica Soho and Korina Sanchez deliver the news. It should haunt us when we finish our academic requirements. It should haunt us when we browse the web and see what is happening all over the world. If the sources of the news we read or listen to everyday are being harassed while they fulfill their job, what should we do? If blood needs to be shed just to write a news article, why are we not asking why is that happening?

The Maguindanao Massacre points to how dangerous and precarious it is to serve the people by covering events and documenting the truth. The Maguindanao Massacre points to what enduring political warlordism in some provinces in the Philippines can result to. The Maguindanao Massacre points to how you can inhumanely take away the lives of almost sixty people in a snap, get away with it and still be able to enjoy some privileges as a ‘prisoner.’ That infamous massacre shows us what the powerful can do just to protect their interests and their privileged positions in society, even at the expense of children and pregnant women, even at the expense of journalists who were just trying to cover the truth and the events behind them.

Four years after the Maguindanao Massacre, we should not be just “never forgetting;” four years after the Maguindanao Massacre, we should be standing up with gritting teeth, venting out our rage and resolutely looking for who or what should be accountable for this tragic event. A quick number recall: 58 have been killed in the massacre, and four years after, none has been prosecuted. This is what we call Impunity.

Four years after the Maguindanao Massacre, we should be watching closely, and if we are watching closely, we should be resisting and fighting dearly for our rights being trampled on. Media killings continue; under Aquino’s term, 19 journalists have been killed. The threat of criminal libel continues to hover above the head of journalists who are forced to alter or keep untold the truth they should be reporting in exchange of a more peaceful, libel-case-free life. On its part, the campus press constantly needs to deal with threats to their press freedom. King’s College of the Philippines’ Loquitur is facing administrative intervention and a meddling adviser, an appointee of no less than the school Administration. UP Baguio Outcrop is still facing a libel case filed by a University Professor. This is the press that delivers us the news and the stories of the Earth – gagged, choked, intimidated, threatened with sharp words, if not guns and bullets.

This is why on the fourth year of the Maguindanao Massacre, to ‘never forget’ is not enough; to ‘never forget’ is never enough. The truth is being killed. And we are all being fed with lies. With a repressed media, our right to information is being denied. With media practitioners being harassed or killed, our right to information is being killed as well. To demand for justice and press freedom then is not just for the families of Maguindanao massacre victims or the mainstream and campus media to do; it should be concertedly done by all of us, the people whose rights and interests have been neglected by those in power in the advancement of theirs.

Today, we remember the Maguindanao Massacre, and we will never stop demanding that the truth be served and that justice be served for all the people hurt and disadvantaged in this for-the-few scheme of things.

Justice for the victims of Ampatuan Massacre!
Stop media killings and human rights abuses!
Persecute human rights violators!

End Impunity Now!

CEGP’s 82nd Anniversary Statement: 82 Years of Choosing for the Students and the People


Adam David, writer and champion of indie publishing in the Philippines, in an on/offline conversation* with Miguel Syjuco, author of the prize-winning Ilustrado, said something about the conceitedness of writers; that writers, “should make claims;” that they “should assume the right of making others think” (2010).

As we celebrate the 82nd anniversary of the College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines, the oldest and widest alliance of school publications in the Asia-Pacific, we shall continue doing an engaged kind of writing that is born out of our concrete experiences in our immediate communities and shall be useful in molding these communities for the better.

CEGP’s 82 years of history is a testament not only of its relevance but also of its potency. From the Guild’s positioned documentation of the Japanese occupation during the World War II, the massive uprisings popularly tagged as the First Quarter Storm antedating the Martial Law that tried desperately to quell these displays of dissent, the ruinous passing of the Campus Journalism Act of 1991, every instance of Tuition and Other Fees Increase in schools and every instance of the violation of the freedom of the Campus Press, the Guild has shown that writing is an act of making choices, that writing is an act of taking sides.

At the present, we continue being conceited and through our pen, provoke others; if not make them act on certain issues. From the issues of Cybercrime Law, the achievements of our schools, Tuition and Other Fees increases, E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey among others, we continued writing and in the process of choosing our topics, angling and delivering them, we took sides and advance certain positions ideally for the interests of the students who are our primary publishers.

This we have done despite the generally uninviting and challenging setting where we operate. During the Guild’s National Convention at Cebu last April, there were 230 documented cases of Campus Press Freedom Violations, with administrative intervention and withholding of funds as the principal cases.

In Baguio-Benguet, the case of Loquitur’s adviser being terminated in her position is the most recent effect of a repressive system that spoils the students’ interests. Without properly consulting the staff members of the Loquitur, the official student publication of the King’s College of the Philippines, the Administration of the school informed the adviser that her “position as adviser will expire on May 30, 2013.” Installing a new adviser without the recommendations of the Loquitur staff, the Administration is also now requiring the student publication to submit to them the final draft of their newspapers before these can be printed.

The libel case of the former Editor-in-Chief of UPB Outcrop continues up to now and gives distress to the former EIC who is also still a student. Most of the school publications in Baguio-Benguet also need to undergo the process of accreditation every year whereas as student institutions, this should not be required of them. Aside from that, all student publications except the ones in Benguet State University do not take hold of their own funds and instead have to abide by the rigid and extremely bureaucratic process of paperworks needed to make use of their funds when needed.

The repressive system, explicit or otherwise, where the campus press resides is a result of the conflicting interests found in this setting. As the mouthpiece of the students and protectors of their interests, the campus press needs to be silenced by powers-that-be in the academic institution most of the time. These violations of campus press freedom are only the most convenient ways by which those in power hinder the potentials of the campus press to record facts, document events and shape the opinion of the students. It is also not rare that the campus press has goaded its readers to act and oppose the existing order of things. This is the worst scenario the powers-that-be try to stave off by limiting the campus press.

But we are far from being deterred. The choice is wide open for us and we know the conditions that should guide this choice. We are members of the campus press, mainly funded by the studentry to which we also belong. We should be working for the interest, welfare of and discursive engagement with the students. Returning to David and Syjuco, we should make them think, we should make them listen to us in the same way that what we should write is relevant and useful to them. No amount of repression could be tantamount to stopping the campus press from fulfilling its duties – that is, choosing for the students, its main publisher, choosing for the students’ interests and concerns.

A long standing 82 years of history only shows how formidable the campus press has become. Together, we can look forward to more years of continued struggle for genuine campus press freedom and the welfare of the students and the Filipino people.

*this ‘conversation’ appeared in the 15th issue of Kritika Kultura, Ateneo de Manila Univesity’s refereed journal (254-276)







2013 World Press Freedom Day: The Press is all of Us


Tomorrow is World Press Freedom Day and there is no more opportune time to highlight the contradictions between the name of what we are supposed to celebrate and the real happenings in the flesh.

This year, several killings and harassments of media practitioners have already been documented. Last February, a photographer and correspondent of the Philippine Daily Inquirer were hit by policemen while covering the protest action in Davao City of the Typhoon Pablo victims. Also, criminal libel continues to threaten the work of several journalists in the country. Last March, two Southern Luzon correspondents of The Philippine Star and Pilipino Star Ngayon were charged with a libel case by a gold trader from Camarines Norte. In the campus press, the former Editor-in-Chief of UP Baguio Outcrop continues to face a legal battle because of an allegedly libelous lampoon article that came out during her term.

The murder of Gerry Ortega, an environmentalist and journalist from Palawan, continues to be unresolved up to now. The same lack of justice applies to the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre, 30 of which were journalists and their families.

As we celebrate World Press Freedom Day tomorrow, let us bear in mind the grim happenings that sadly taint our cause of celebration. More importantly, let us continue our fight for a more genuine Press Freedom all over the world and for a Press that will not be harassed, intimidated, charged legally, surveilled, abducted and murdered for what they write and what principles they uphold.

Ultimately, the Press is all of us; the Press is not just the people behind the newspaper articles and the news programs; the Press also includes the people who are the producers, consumers and analysts of information that is shown in the media.



For Reference:

Ivan Emil Labayne, 09268105915


CEGP Baguio-Benguet condemns Aquino COMELEC’s systematic attacks on Makabayan Bloc

Press Statement

April 14, 2013

CEGP Baguio-Benguet is enraged by the latest ploy by the Commission of Elections to disqualify the KABATAAN partylist, the lone representative of the youth in the Congress, and Piston partylist in the upcoming May 2013 Elections. With this move, the COMELEC only reinforces its being an Aquino COMELEC.

The Comelec charged both partylists who are members of the Makabayan bloc for allegedly violating COMELEC Resolution No. 9615 which concerns the posting of campaign materials on public areas. Earlier, KABATAAN Partylist already showed proofs of compliance to the rules which are accompanied by photo documentations and eyewitness accounts.

CEGP Baguio-Benguet sees this move by the clearly biased COMELEC as a motivated attack against members of the Makabayan Bloc who is known for advancing the genuine interests of the Filipino people. Along with the red-baiting of the Makabayan’s lone Senatorial candidate Teddy Casiño, the COMELEC, backed by and evidently protecting the Aquino administration, is resorting to a variety of evil tactics to hinder the members of the Makabayan bloc to push for its alternative politics.

The COMELEC overlooks the fact that the KABATAAN Partylist has long been working for the promotion of the interests of the youth not just in its stint in the Congress but also beyond the legislative arena. KABATAAN partylist has been on the forefront of the fight against the systematic neglect of the Aquino administration to the State Universities and Colleges which essentially deprive the Filipino people of its basic right to education. Since Aquino take his seat as President, KABATAAN partylist has been leading the massive protest actions against huge budget cuts in SUCs and tuition fee increases in private schools. KABATAAN Partylist was also the leading author of the Anti No-Permit, No Exam Policy which can be helpful to students who are prevented from taking their examinations because of unpaid fees. KABATAAN partylist was also one of the earliest to file a petition against the unconstitutional Cybercrime Law and mobilized its widest forces to contribute in the eventual issuance of temporary restraining order on the said law. Also, with the help of its national formations and chapters, KABATAAN partylist, through its Tulong Kabataan Program, was also able to respond most quickly and most widely to help our fellowmen in times of national disasters and calamities. These among the many other achievements and meaningful actions of KABATAAN partylist in protecting the rights of the Filipino people the COMELEC seems to consciously bypass and focus instead on a little issue which the partylist has not left unresolved and not rectified.

At this point, we urge every youth to be vigilant as the COMELEC makes its decision in this disqualification case. We have to bear in mind that without KABATAAN Partylist, without our sole representation in the Congress, we will lose a key ally in our struggle for our rights and the protection of our interests. The history and track record of KABATAAN partylist speaks for itself. However, these are not enough to thwart a bullish apparatus of the Aquino administration who works to persecute those who are at the side of the people. What is needed is mobilizing the largest act of condemnation from the youth in order to frustrate this harassment from the COMELEC.




The loss of Kristel, the lost ‘Iskolar ng Bayan’ tag and the continuing call for quality and mass-oriented education


CEGP Baguio-Benguet is one with the family, friends and sympathizers of Kristel Tejada, the Behavioral Science student from UP Manila who ended her life because of her family’s inability to pay for her tuition fees, in lamenting the loss of an Iskolar ng Bayan. Furthermore, we lament the essential loss of the significance of this previously esteemed ‘Iskolar ng Bayan’ designation and the tragic system of education that causes it.

Kristel’s loss, more than anything, personalizes and magnifies the horrible education system that we usually capture in the characteristic catchphrases of being ‘commercialized, colonial and fascist.’ Kristel’s loss only attests to the enormous harms posed by this kind of education to our fellow youth and our fellowmen in general. Expensive costs of tuition fees in a State University, which is being such is supposed to be funded by the peoples’ taxes, discriminating schemes such as the No Late Payment policy, and rigorous processes one needs to undergo (i.e. through the STFAP program in UP) in order to prove she deserves to pay less are only a few exemplifications of a kind of education that is being reserved for the privileged. This is how supposed ‘slogans’ will haunt us with their veracity: education is a right and shall be given to every citizen regardless of gender, religion, socioeconomic or ethnic background. The decreasing budget of the University of the Philippines, along with the other 110 State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) in the country, programs aiming to make these SUCs ‘self-sufficient’ by encouraging income-generating projects and privatizing the schools’ assets – these are but a few realities that prove how the Aquino administration neglects the education of its constituents.

Ultimately, it is always disheartening that we have to encounter losses and deaths before we realize the plight that we are in. Kristel’s death shall not be reduced to a kind of ‘pseudo-event’ that Fredric Jameson spoke of. Kristel’s event shall not be just mourned upon without probing the more fundamental issues that it entangles and implicates. Kristel’s death shall be the ultimatum that will rouse us from our slumbering sense of involvement and our lack of awareness, whether these are conscious or otherwise. Kristel’s death shall reveal the crisp legitimacy of the old ‘slogans’ we may have grown tired of but still continually eggs on us to fight for:

Education is a Right!

Justice for Kristel Tejada!

Justice for all the Filipinos denied of a Scientific and Quality Education!

Black Monday in UP Baguio (photo courtesy of UP Baguio Outcrop)

Black Monday in UP Baguio (photo courtesy of UP Baguio Outcrop)

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