Posts Tagged ‘Campus Press Freedom’

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.”


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!

With the approval of Cybercrime Law: Libel, now “redundantly excessive” in the Philippines


Last year, the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) asserted that the criminal sanction for libel in the country is “excessive.” Libel being a criminal case in the Philippines is a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in which the country is a signatory.

While the campaign to decriminalize (diminish from being a criminal to a civil case) libel in the country continues, CEGP Baguio-Benguet sees the approval of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Law as a backward step in the campaign to decriminalize libel. With the inclusion of online libel in the punishable acts under the content-related offenses, the limit to freedom of expression and the public’s right to information already caused by the criminal libel can now take effect in the internet as well. To put it satirically, it seems like libel has become “redundantly excessive” in the Philippines.

In the past, criminal libel cases were filed against journalists, mostly from the community or alternative press, who expose the anomalies of and criticize influential people.  For instance, Alexander Adonis of Bombo Radyo Davao was accused of committing criminal libel by then Congressman and eventual House Speaker Prospero Nograles and convicted after failing to defend himself in court due to financial concerns. This came about after Adonis reported of an incident where the Congressman was caught with a mistress in a Manila Hotel.

At present, a member of the Guild, the former Editor-in-Chief of UP Baguio Outcrop is facing a libel case in the Regional Trial Court. The case ensued from a section of a lampoon article criticizing acts of powerplay in the university.

With the approval of the Cybercrime Law, the Guild is wary of it posing a limitation to the freedom of expression and free flow of discourse in the internet. Undeniably, the online medium has proven to be one of the more efficient ways of disseminating information and participating in the discourses in the society especially among the youth. The possible implementation of the Cybercrime Law can only curb the potentials of the online medium for sharing information and shaping public opinion. With numerous campus publications setting up online version of their newspapers, any content that can be deemed “libelous” by authorities can lead to undue penalties.

In the end, CEGP Baguio-Benguet perceives the approval of the Cybercrime Law to be another manifestation of the Aquino regime’s stifling of the rights of its people.  With its continued blundering in addressing the issues confronting the basic people such as access to basic social services, employment, land distribution among others and the resulting outcry from more and more of its constituents, the Aquino regime seeks to systematically repress their expression of dissent through various means. The Cybercrime Law is clearly one of these tactics. To this, the Guild sees nothing more apt a response than continuing dissent. Silence cannot be condoned when it is the rights of the people that are at stake.



The Buttress, the official student publication of the School of Engineering and Architecture, Saint Louis University, affirms its full support for Ms. Jesusa Paquibot, former Editor-in-chief of Outcrop, the official student publication of the University of the Philippines-Baguio, who is reproached with libel by a certain faculty member of UP-Baguio.

The Buttress recognizes the role of student publications as a medium for fair, honest and fearless news and views and as an agent for better relations among the students, faculty members, school administration, and the employees of the school they belong through responsible ethical journalism.  In this regard, as campus journalists, The Buttress believes that campus press freedom is essential for student publications to accomplish their roles for the welfare of the institution they serve.


The Buttress believes that the withholding of the right of student publications to freedom of expression, deterring them from informing the public of the truth, is a violation of the freedom of the press, speech and expression as stated in the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Article III, Section 4.

The Buttress recognizes that student journalists must always write responsibly and pursue only the truth.

The Buttress is certain that the UPB Outcrop’s lampoon section ‘Yupiang Yupi’ does not intend to defame a specific person and has no malice on the part of the editorial staff.

The Buttress is in one with Ms. Paquibot’s struggle in defending and upholding campus press freedom. The Buttress hopes that justice must be served where it is due, in all fairness to the opposing sides.

Decriminalize libel!

Uphold campus press freedom and student rights!


Llayd Asim

Editor-in-chief, The Buttress

BSU Mountain Collegian Support Statement on the Outcrop Libel case

The Mountain Collegian, the official student publication of Benguet State University (BSU), confirms its support for Jesusa Paquibot, editor-in-chief of the Outcrop, the official student publication of the University of the Philippines-Baguio (UPB), who is charged with a libel case filed against her by a certain teacher from UPB.

The Mountain Collegian accepts that campus journalists must not write afar from what is true because campus journalists have a pledge towards responsible journalism.

The Mountain Collegian recognizes the significance of campus press freedom in bringing to the student body the social task of telling the truth and expressing the ideals of the studentry. As campus journalists, The Mountain Collegian deems that campus press freedom is the heart of campus journalism. The denial of such, partly or in full and in whatever mode, is equivalent to hindering campus journalists from bringing the truth to the studentry. Furthermore, such repression is clearly violating the Constitution and the Campus Journalism Act of 1991.

The Mountain Collegian stands in the belief that the article “YupiangYupi” does not mean to insult or criticize the nature, name, and honor of anyone in particular. Moreover, the article addresses certain issues of the students, such as embarrassing campus journalists who are just doing their duties.

The Mountain Collegian hopes that justice may be served where it is due and that fairness must prevail. Lastly, all sides must be given the opportunity to be heard and the safeguard of the greatest good must be always maintained.


Support Statement for Outcrop Libel Case: CEGP Kalinga Chapter

A campus paper writer is an artistic activist and partisan in some struggle for power. Like an artist, he molds, paints, draws and sketches words about what is happening around her in the school or in the community where he lives. Like a partisan, he is often mistaken as a shrewd oppositionist who writes or comments against the faculty or administration of the school he is connected. It is just but natural and perhaps even healthier that some divergence of view sets in.

Every student journalist has the right to express her feelings, ideas and observations but has to be responsible enough to seek and present only the truth for journalism should be promoted as a way literature that is not one-sided and baseless.  Press freedom is guaranteed in the Constitution of the Philippines, where it is enshrined in Article III, Section 4.

Hence, we, the members of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) Kalinga Chapter, affirm our support for Ms. Jesusa Paquibot, Editor-in-Chief of the Outcrop, and the official student publication of the University of the Philippines-Baguio, who is facing a libel case filed against her by a faculty member of UP Baguio.






Nineteen year-old campus journalist facing possible conviction for charges of libel: an update on the libel case against Jesusa Paquibot, former Outcrop Editor-in-Chief (2)

The task of the journalist, be it mainstream or campus-based, is to write the truth. Whether it is the rising prices of commodities, the poverty in urban areas, the latest gadgets, the movies that everyone is watching at the moment, a teacher rebuking someone who merely does her job as an event documentor or a new infrastructure in town, as long as it is grounded on reality and backed up by facts, the journalist must write what he or she thinks is most relevant to the readers.

Due to limitations in the space of a newspaper or time slot for audio-visual programs, journalists can only choose some of what they deem to be most relevant and most significant among the numerous events happening around which they can write about. Moreover, given a democratic space that is being limited by factors like legislations, editorial policies leaning towards private interests and most severely, security threats, the journalists have to be more careful and creative in delivering the issues in the community and influencing the thinking of the people. One of the ways by which these limitations can be undermined is through types of writing that can vary tones and writing styles, explore linguistic forms and generally go outside the rigidities of structure usually found in more traditional types of journalism articles like news and features. One example here is lampoon writing. Without bypassing the principles of responsible journalism and in the case of Outcrop, without digression from its pro-student and pro-people orientation, lampoon writing can be effectively used to tackle issues which otherwise cannot be tackled in a setting abounding with repressive codes and regulations. Sadly, even this tapping of alternative forms to deliver truthful events is being attacked especially if they threaten those who cling to and benefit with their power. This is what happened to a lampoon article, entitled Yupiang Yupi, which is published in Outcrop, the official student publication of UP Baguio.

Around November last year, upon arriving at her boarding house, the Editor-in-Chief of UPB Outcrop received a subpoena requiring her to submit a counter-affidavit in defense of the complaint that a Professor in UP Baguio filed at the City Prosecutor’s Office on August 25, 2011. On November 25, together with her legal adviser, Paquibot filed her counter-affidavit at the City Prosecutor’s Office. Four days after, The City Prosecutor’s Office filed a resolution stating that the article was not libelous due to the lack of the element of specificity.

On December 19, 2011, the private complainant filed a motion for reconsideration. The case was then considered libelous after a student and a professor from the CAC officially declared that they think the fictional character in the said Yupiang Yupi article to be professor. However, the Outcrop was not able to respond to this since it was the period of Christmas break when most of the staffers come back to their homes.

January of this year when Outcrop, the official student publication of UP Baguio and member of the College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines, received a notice from the Regional Trial Court (RTC) prosecutor indicating its decision to continue the libel case filed by a professor of UP Baguio to Jesusa Paquibot as Editor-in-Chief of Outcrop. This was after the earlier charge of libel was dismissed on November 2011 by a different prosecutor.

On January 19, 2012, Outcrop filed cash bond to recall or set aside the warrant of arrest. The original amount of ten thousand was reduced to five thousand five hundred after a motion to reduce bail was made. The amount of money raised and used for bail was garnered overnight through donations from the UP Baguio students, Outcrop alumni and others.

On February 07, 2012, in the scheduled arraignment, the respondent pleaded not guilty.

On March 07, 2012, the pre-trial was held.

On March 08 and 09, 2012, the defense requested the Court for a mediation process with the complainant. While the process went on, the complainant and the respondent were not able to settle the terms of mediation. The complainant wished that the respondent apologizes for the lampoon article it approved of publishing and which intends to defame her. The respondent and her legal advisers disagreed to these terms for they find it to be self-incriminating and similar to a guilty plea.

With the failure of the mediation process to settle the case, the initial trial was set on April 23 where the Professor testified as the private offended party.

On May 15 and 16, 2012, Professor Anna Christie, now Dean of the College of Arts and Communication of UP Baguio, testified as a witness.

On May 22 Joshua Anne Therese Tan, a Communication student at UP Baguio testified as a witness. The next day, May 23, Ms. Tan was cross-examined by the defense then the side of the private complainant presented another witness, Nelly Rae Castro, also a Communication student at UP Baguio.

On June 19, Amer Amor, an instructor at UP Baguio was presented as the last witness of the private complainant. The side of the private complainant was given ten days to a summation of its evidences to which the defense will have seven days afterwards to make comments on.

As of now, the defense planned to return the case to the Judicial Dispute Resolution where again it will try to settle the case with the complainant by agreeing on the terms of the public letter. Ms. Paquibot of Outcrop and CEGP together with her legal advisers and confreres are open to apologizing to the Professor but only for the distress the lampoon article caused her and nothing else. However, the legal adviser of Outcrop clarified that instead of a “mediation” with the complainant, a “settlement” seems more likely to happen. Whereas in the case of a mediation, the two parties can meet on mutually agreeable terms, a settlement would allow the complainant to compel the respondent (Ms. Paquibot) to abide by the conditions she will demand. Considering the heavy toll a conviction on libel would generate – at least six months of imprisonment and a fine of up to 500 thousand pesos – the Editorial Board of Outcrop is now considering to abide by whatever demands the private complainant will make if a case of settlement takes place. Similar to the plight of the mainstream media, particularly from community papers, who are also prone to charges of libel, Outcrop is being daunted by the possible consequences of a conviction. Lacking the financial capability to shoulder such fines and to miss a period of their work in the case of imprisonment, many mediamen charged of libel are forced to succumb to the conditions given by the complainants just for the case to be dismissed. In the case of Paquibot, the situation appears even bleaker as she is only a student, who unfortunately, was charged of a criminal case by a professor in the university.

To clarify this further, while this scenario is being explored by the Editorial Board of Outcrop and its confreres, it is still very open on pursuing the case. Since it is now the turn of the defense to present its witnesses, Outcrop is already preparing for this stage. It already has its line of witnesses that shall present the other side of the case. Hence, while it already looks at the possibility of conviction of one among its ranks, the defense’ determination to continue the trial is not even slightly dampened. It is in this relation that CEGP Baguio-Benguet keeps on gathering support from fellow campus journalists, mainstream media practitioners and other concerned groups for our victory in this case.

This is when the unity not just of the members of the press but of everyone who cares to know the things happening around them is being urgently called for.  We are seeking the support of the mainstream media which is likewise prone to the threats of powerplay in the current system where libel is only one manifestation. We are also uniting with the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines in its call to Decriminalize Libel and prevent this from limiting the freedom of expression of the media, and as a consequence, limiting as well the public’s freedom of information.

In the final note, CEGP Baguio-Benguet reiterates that this is not just Outcrop’s battle. This is a battle for the entire press – be it campus or mainstream. This is a battle against the various elements – state institutions and policies, powerful and influential figures – that stifle not only the right of media practitioners to freedom of expression but more importantly, the right to information of the public.


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