UP College of Mass Communication (CMC) Dean Elena Pernia released a statement Thursday on the eUP Project Team’s statement against a Journalism undergraduate investigative thesis on the project.
The statement was exclusively forwarded to Tinig ng Plaridel via CMC College Secretary Teresa Congjuico.
“Has there been an assault on academic freedom and freedom of expression?
“Consistent with the academic freedom in the University of the Philippines Diliman, all students, in the undergraduate and graduate programs of the College of Mass Communication, are free to choose the topics for their thesis. Faculty advisers provide guidance to ensure that the thesis topic lies within the communication or media field/discipline concerned (i.e., Broadcast Communication, Communication Research, Film, and Journalism). Moreover, especially for those who opt to do an investigative report for their thesis, Journalism students are asked to establish that their thesis topic is ‘viable and newsworthy.’
“There is no question that, in the specific case of the Bautista-Subingsubing thesis on eUP, the topic was/is newsworthy. Its viability was assured when the students’ requests for interviews and access to data were granted by UP System Officials and the eUP team.
“Has there been any attempt on the part of UP administration to prevent the exercise of the freedom of expression or curtail academic freedom? Has there been any attempt to prevent its upload in iskWiki, the open access repository of all theses of the College?
“That the thesis was completed and submitted in accomplishment of the degree requirement, adjudged best thesis by the faculty of the Department, and awarded best paper by external judges indicate that there was no curtailment of the students’ freedoms. Moreover, that electronic copies of the thesis have been/are being shared and that portions of it uploaded in the social media further evidence freedom of expression obtaining in the University.
“When the eUP team released its ‘Statement on the undergraduate thesis of Ronn Bautista and Krixia Subingsubing on the eUP Project’, several months after the thesis was completed, criticising the thesis for its ‘misleading claims, questionable conclusions, and false allegations’, was it not exercising its own right to free speech?
On issues like that of eUP, discussion and debate are integral. Let all voices/positions exercise free expression. Justice Louis D. Brandeis put it this way: ‘If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the process of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.'”
The eUP Project Team had called the report by fresh Journalism graduates Ronn Bautista and Krixia Subingsubing and hailed as Best Thesis by the UP Department of Journalism as “poorly conducted research work” and “a witch hunt disguised as an academic endeavor.”
Meanwhile, Dean Pernia’s predecessor Roland Tolentino released another statement on Facebook, Aug. 26, condemning the eUP Project Team’s statement.
“While the eUP team has the right to comment on the questions and arguments raised by the thesis,” the statement said, “it cannot attribute malice to the authors and undermine the integrity of the thesis as an Investigative Journalism (IJ) project.”
CMC faculty members, students, staff and alumni had signed the statement.