The pen is indeed mightier than the sword. And the 130 pens of student journalists from the National Capital Region (NCR) chapter of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) proved to be mightier than the repression of campus press.
BY REYNA MAE TABBADA
The pen is indeed mightier than the sword. And the 130 pens of student journalists from the National Capital Region (NCR) chapter of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) proved to be mightier than the repression of the campus press.
The University of the Philippines-Diliman (UP Diliman) became the venue for the National Day of Action held last January 31, Wednesday, by student journalists in protest of repression. They specifically cited the case of the Philippine Collegian, the funds of which is being withheld by the UP administration. The theme of the event was AKLAS PLUMA (Pahayagang Lumalaban) which featured a modeling competition, cultural presentations, mural painting, and statements of condemnation of suppression of student publications.
The highlight of AKLAS PLUMA was a modeling competition called Rampahayagan. The CEGP-NCR area representatives wore “their creation made out of copies of their publications and depicting the plight of press freedom.” Also included in Rampahayagan was the designing of advocacy shirts.
Representatives from four CEGP-NCR areas, namely Sta. Mesa, Metro South, Near Taft, and University Belt, showcased their unique creations. The delegates from Sta. Mesa came in gladiator-inspired costumes, saying that student press is very much like gladiators, who were “prisoners of war” yet “matapang na mandirigma.” (brave warriors).
The outfits of members from Metro South were inspired by the journalist’s job of “pagbaon ang bulok na sistema” (defeating the corrupt system) and of “protecting the rights of the people.”
Super Pluma and Super Torch were superheroes conceived by members from Near Taft, highlighting the power of the pluma (pen) and the ability of the press to be the torch that gives light during times of darkness. Students from the University Belt came in ethnic-style fashion, depicting journalists as akin to our “ninunong mandirigma” (native warriors) who protect the tribe’s freedom.
The winner of the Rampahayagan was the Sta. Mesa area, while the best advocacy shirt was made by the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa. Performances were held by student groups like KARATULA (Kabataang Artista para sa Tunay na Kalayaan or Young Artists for Genuine Freedom) and UP Repertory Company. Gelacio Guillermo read his poem dedicated to the theme of the event. The CEGP is the oldest and widest association of student publications around the country.
In an interview with Bulatlat, Philippine Collegian Editor-in-Chief Karl Castro lamented that because of the budget constraint imposed by the UP administration this is “probably the term which has released the least number of issues.”
He also said that this problem might extend till next year as they are now preparing for the upcoming editorial examination. Castro surmised that the “blatant repression” they are experiencing may still be felt until June of the next school year.
The current problem besetting the Philippine Collegian began after the UP administration insisted that the official student publication is covered by Republic Act No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act. The administration asserted that all fees collected by the university are government funds, and therefore the printing of the paper must undergo public bidding and selection.
In a statement issued by the editorial board of the Philippine Collegian for 2006-2007, they said, “However, the Collegian firmly asserts that it is exempt from RA 9184. It is not a government unit, as it is funded only by the students. Moreover, the Campus Journalism Act of 1991 stipulates that the editorial board should facilitate the selection of the publication’ s printing press. The administration’ s sole task is to collect the publication fee during registration, and thereafter give full discretion of handling of Collegian funds to the duly selected editorial board. The administration may not intervene in any of the publication’ s operations.”