Smoking Injunction: The Politics of the No Smoking Policy

By Mae A. Hernandez

 

Just this semester, the UP administration implemented a stricter smoking ban in all its systems throughout the country. For the administration, it aims to promote awareness about the health risks that can be gotten from smoking tobacco.

In the memorandum distributed among all colleges of the UP system, the policy is in accordance with the three “legal obligations:” 1) the Constitution declares states universities to “instill health consciousness among the people,” 2) in response to the WHO Framework convention on Tobacco control where the Philippines is a state party, and 3) to implement R.A. 9211 or the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003.

The new policy has given the Chancellors, deans, heads of offices, faculty administrators and security personnel the authority to fully implement and observe total smoking ban. It also forbids business concessionaires, big and small, in selling and advertising any tobacco product within 100 meters of the campus’ outer perimeter.

Given these restrictions imposed by the administration, it still gave consideration on the part of those who smoke. However, the deal is conditional. Based on the memorandum, one is free to smoke outside the building except from “entrances, exits or close to any place where non-smokers will pass.” Even waiting sheds, sidewalks, parking spaces, parks and similar places were prohibited for smoking. Proper signs are also emphasized to ensure if the objectives of the policy are met.

Sacrifice has to be made

This situation is what every student is experiencing as they face a day in the campus. Mina (not her real name) is a 3rd year Communication Research student. She admits she had gained addiction to smoking.

“I officially started smoking last sem dahil sa pressure sa school, mga personal problems, at exposure sa smokers,” she said.

In a day, she takes only five to seven sticks. But she already considers herself as a person addicted to smoking. She personally buys a pack of her favorite cigarette than getting or sharing a stick from someone. For her, the policy on smoking ban has motives or hidden agenda that have to be disclosed.

“Although naglagay sila ng smoking area, inconvenient siya kasi di ka naman makakaupo, so yung comfortability of smoking wala. Smoking kasi it’s a personal choice. We should not impose total smoking ban and say to someone to stop smoking. So in a way it is propaganda—to forcefully stop the students to smoke,” Mina said.

The kind of behavior that Mina is showcasing can be traced through our sociological roots. Filomin Gutierrez, a professor in Department of Sociology in UP Diliman believes that smoking has become pervasive in the Philippine society because it is a solitary habit. She said since humans are naturally social, they want to fit in any group. The pressure to appear “cool’ to other people sends a sense of belongingness and affirmation of being part of a particular group.

Furthermore, history has detailed accounts on how addiction of smoking propagated in Filipinos’ social and cultural being. In the 19th century, tobacco was a key product of the Philippines. The Spanish government then controlled and extracted revenue from the tobacco production. As one of the main crops back then, Filipinos got dependent on the components of tobacco.

“We can treat [smoking] as an indigenous practice kasi marami talaga ang nagssmoke ng tobacco pero nareinforce ito nang nagkaroon na ng commercialization ng tobacco as a product,” Prof. Gutierrez said.

The commercialization of tobacco began in Canada. Trades made the proliferation of the tobacco consumption throughout the globe as the 19th century progressed. When the Suez Canal was opened for ships to pass, the Galleon Trade started to change the lives of the people especially the Filipinos. Tobacco products that are coming from the Philippines gained popularity in some nations. In 1880, the monopoly of the government on tobacco had ended but the country has remained as one of the consistent exporter of tobacco in Victorian parlors in Britain, the whole Europe, and North America.

Growing Figures

At present, tobacco seems to maintain its position as one of the most wanted commodity of the Filipinos. Based on the WHO report, tobacco companies are among the top 10 advertisers in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and the Philippines. As a result, among WHO Regions, the Western Pacific Region – which covers East Asia and the Pacific – has the highest smoking rate, with nearly two-thirds of men smoking.

Tobacco smoking has really altered the way people live their lives. Approximately, about 60 percent of Filipino men smoke according to the 2002 WHO report. This number undermines the potential risks that the addiction of smoking can bring to their health. As for the UP administration, it is a responsible action for them to implement total smoking ban.

Gutierrez echoed this standpoint. “I think the administration has seen the general trend in science through the reality of lung cancer and the harmful effects that smoking brings to the passive smokers,” she said.

The administration reasons thatthe no smoking ban is in compliance with the national objectives. However, it keeps mum about the questions that have arisen with the policy’s implementation. Uncertainties will continue to linger throughout the university.

References:

World Health Organization’s Smoking Statistics http://www.wpro.who.int/media_centre/fact_sheets/fs_20020528.htm

http://www.history-of-tobacco.com/index2.shtml

http://www.delapaz-ewf.org/History.htm

Nasaan na ang ‘Tinig’?

Sa gitna ng mga kasalukuyang pangyayari na sunud-sunod na kinaharap ng ating lipunan, ng Unibersidad at ng kolehiyo, nararapat lamang na nararamdaman din ang presensiya ng pahayagang pampaaralan upang siyang mag-ulat ng mga ito sa mga mag-aaral at maghayag ng mga saloobin tungkol sa mga ito. Tangan ninyo ngayon ang isang kopya ng inyong pahayagan–sagot sa mga katanungan sa isipan ng mga mag-aaral ng pangmadlang komunikasyon kung nasaan na ang Tinig ng Plaridel.

 

Nitong mga nagdaang buwan ay nagtataka ang karamihan sa mga mag-aaral sa umano’y tila pananahimik ng pahayagang ito–sa gitna ng pagkakabuwag sa mga tambayan ng mga organisasyong nakabase sa kolehiyo, sa laban ng mga mag-aaral laban sa pagtaas ng matrikula sa Unibersidad, at sa umano’y paglago ng ekonomiya na ipinagmamayabang ng kasalukuyang pamahalaan (na kontra naman sa mga datos na inilabas nang sumunod na araw tungkol sa pagtaas ng mga insidente ng pagkagutom ng mga mamamayan). Nangalahati na ang kasalukuyang taong akademiko ay hindi pa rin nakapaglalabas ng kahit iisang isyu man lamang ang TNP upang talakayin at ipahayag ang saloobin ng mahigit sanlibong mga mag-aaral na nasa kolehiyong ito.

 

Dalawang dahilan ang maiuugnay sa pagkakaantala ng paglabas ng inyong pahayagan.

 

Una, nakakalungkot, at higit pa’y nakakainis, na malamang walang tumutugon sa tawag ng Konseho ng mga Mag-aaral sa mga interesadong kumuha ng editoryal na pagsusulit para sa TNP–isang problemang nagtagal ng halos isang semestre. Aapat na mag-aaral ang sumagot sa panawagang pamunuan ang isang pangkat ng mga mag-aaral na patuloy na mag-uulat ng mga pangyayari at magpapahayag ng mga saloobin tungkol sa mga suliraning hinaharap sa kasalukuyang panahon.

 

Ikalawa, kahit na nagamit na ang lahat ng paraan–pakikipag-usap, text messages sa mga mobile phone, at maging ang e-mail sa Internet–upang malaman na naghahanap ng mga interesadong gumawa para sa pahayagan, nagtetengang-kawali pa rin ang mga mag-aaral–mga taong magiging bahagi ng isang industriyang ang pangunahing papel ay maging tagapagpamulat at tagapagbuklod ng sambayanan.

 

Sa huli, nagtapos ang unang semestre ng kasalukuyang taong panuruan nang walang nangyari–kung kailan kabubuo pa lamang ng pangkat na mamamahala sa TNP. At sa ngayon, lalabing-isang mag-aaral ang magtutuloy sa tradisyon ng matapang at responsableng pamamahayag. Kung tutuusin, maswerte na ang kasalukuyang pangkat dahil mas malaki ito kaysa nagdaang pamunuan na aanim lamang ang kasapi at dumepende sa mga kontribusyon mula sa ibang mga mag-aaral.

 

Oo at may pagkukulang rin ang mga bumubuo sa pahayagan ngayon. Hindi ito naging maagap sa pagkilos nito, at hindi nagamit ang iba pang paraan upang maipahatid sa mas nakararami ang tungkol sa TNP. Ngunit mas nakatulong kung mulat lamang ang mga mag-aaral tungkol sa pahayagang kanilang inaasahang lalabas nang regular. Kung sila ay tila inosente tungkol mismo sa TNP, paano pa kaya ang mas malalaking problemang panlipunan na haharapin ng mga mag-aaral?

 

Nakakabanas na isiping ganito na ang hitsura ng kolehiyong bantog sa pagiging ‘maalam, may pakialam.’ Naglalaho na nga bang unti-unti ang sinasabing ‘Tatak CMC’? Repleksyon na nga ba ito ng isang kolehiyong binubuo ng mga mag-aaral na pababa na nang pababa ang antas ng kamalayan sa mga nangyayari sa kanilang kapaligiran? Nasaan na ang aktibong pakikisangkot ng mga mag-aaral sa bawat pangyayaring makakaapekto sa buhay ng kolehiyo, ng Unibersidad, at higit sa lahat, ng bayan? Ang mga estudyante ng pangmadlang komunikasyon ay wala na nga bang pakiramdam? Manhid? Apatetiko? O sadyang nagbibingi-bingihan lamang?

 

Ito ang mga bagay na nagsisilbing hamon sa mga bumubuo ng lupong editoryal at mga kawani ng Tinig ng Plaridel. At ang kasalukuyang pamunuan ay gagabayan ng isang layunin: ang muling pagpapabalik ng karakter ng mga mag-aaral ng CMC – na maging maalam at may pakialam.

 

Bawat pahina ng bawat isyu ng TNP na lalabas ay maglalaman ng mga balitang masusing kinalap at sinuri ng mga kasapi nito. Iuulat nito ang mga pangyayaring nakakaapekto sa mga mag-aaral–sa lebel ng kolehiyo, ng UP, o pambansa man. Kalakip nito ang mga lathalaing patungkol sa mga isyu sa ating ginagalawang kapaligiran, at ang mga suliraning hinaharap ng industriyang kahahantungan ng mga estudyante–ang mass media. Ang mga pitak ng opinyon sa pahayagan ay lalakipan ng matapang na pag-aanalisa ng mga kasalukuyang isyu at suliranin. At upang mabalanse ang mga ito, magkakaroon ng mga seksyon na kung saan ay hindi lamang matututong bumuo ng kanilang sariling opinyon ang mga mag-aaral, kundi ang sila’y malibang at matuwa sa positibong paraan. Ang lahat ng mga ito ay nais maisagawa ng mga bumubuo sa TNP upang ibalik ang malaya, mapagpalaya at mapanuring kaisipan at karakter ng mga mag-aaral ng UP CMC.

 

At bilang tugon sa mga pagbabago ng kasalukuyang panahon, hindi lamang makikita ang Tinig ng Plaridel sa nakagisnan nitong anyo. Sapagkat ang dikta ng bagong henerasyon sa larangan ng midya ay ang konsepto ng pagsasaisa o convergence, magiging aktibo rin ang presensya ng pahayagan sa Internet. Inaayos na rin ang mga plano upang magkaroon ang pahayagan ng palatuntunan sa DZUP, ang opisyal na himpilan ng radyo ng Unibersidad. Palalawakin pa ng mga inisyatibong ito ang hangarin ng pahayagan na magsilbing instrumento ng malayang pagpapalitan ng mga kuru-kuro ng mga mag-aaral at maging ng mga guro at kawani ng kolehiyo na nais makisangkot sa usapang pampubliko.

 

Ngunit alam din ng kasalukuyang pamunuan ang mahalagang papel nito upang ituro ang responsableng paggamit ng midya bilang instrumento ng malayang pakikipagtalastasan. Dahil ang bawat pagkilos ay may kaakibat na responsibilidad na dapat gampanan, dapat na gabayan ang mga bumubuo sa TNP ng Philippine Journalists’ Code of Ethics, at ng sarili nitong kodigo ng mga etikal na katungkulan na bubuuin sa taong ito. Ang mga ito ay ipapakalat din sa mga mag-aaral upang kanila ring masuri kung nagagawa nang mahusay ng pahayagan ang mga tungkulin nito. Higit pa rito, walang sinusunod na saligang-batas ang publikasyon, at ito ay balangkasin at ayusin sa taong ito upang maging lalong maayos ang pagkilos ng mga kasapi ng TNP sa pagtupad sa kanilang mga responsibilidad.

 

Nagsisimula pa lamang ang laban para sa kasalukuyang pamunuan ng Tinig ng Plaridel. At hangad nito na mahubog ang mga mag-aaral ng Kolehiyo ng Pangmadlang Komunikasyon upang sila ay maging tunay na maalam at may pakialam. Sa ganitong paraan lamang mas lalong mapapalakas ang tinig–tinig ng isang matalino at matapang na bantay na tututol sa mga kamalian at kabulukang nangyayari sa kapaligirang kanyang ginagalawan.

 

Freedom in Peril: Probing the World Press Freedom Index

By Camille P. De Jesus

 

The Philippines climbed higher in the World Press Freedom Index, from 142nd last year to 128th, according to the organization Reporters without Borders (RSF). These words must have painted a better and freer press but the real image of the present condition of media in the country is yet blood-stricken. The fact that the Philippine press stays suffering from repression and violations still remains.

The RSF website reported that the recent ranking was based on questionnaires distributed to 15 freedom-of-expression organizations, 130 correspondents, and journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists all over the world. The questionnaires contained 50 questions about the press freedom of 169 countries.

The country’s improved standing, said the RSF, was because of fewer journalist killings and less cases filed against media men. It was cited as one of the “unexpected improvements” in the ranking.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) recorded five murder incidents which the organization said was the lowest tally since 2002. However, the number pertains only to “reported” cases of murder. It does not include victims of enforced disappearances and other unreported harassments.

RSF also said there were “fewer defamation (libel) cases against journalists and news media.” Seven months ago, First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo withdrew the multiple libel suits against more than 40 journalists. The threat, however, lingers.

The president received recently a “medallia de oro” from Spain for her alleged outstanding efforts to fight for human rights. And yet, only we can see the irony of the stark contrast between the country’s achievements and the reality.

Op(press)ion

Just recently, the National Press Club defaced a press freedom mural created by the Neo-Angono Artists Collective depicting the current situation of press freedom in the Philippines.

NPC, which commissioned the mural for 900,000 pesos, altered the art and its symbolisms to make it less “anti-government,” according to Richard Gappi, president of the artists’ collective.

The mural, officially titled “Sangandaan sa Kasaysayan ng Malayang Pamamahayag sa Pilipinas” (Crossroads of History of the Free Press in the Philippines) shows a street scene which Gappi said connotes the idea of upholding press freedom as “everybody’s concern since this is the right of the people in a democratic society and an integral part of the freedom of expression which the Constitution guarantees.”

Jerome Aning of the Philippine Daily Inquirer described in an article the original mural and the symbolisms in it.

He wrote, “The center image shows a man reading the editorial page of a newspaper that tackles the latest killings of journalists. In the man’s immediate background is the NPC building, which, according to the artists, also serves as a sort of rotunda and suggests ‘the intersection and meeting point of the past and the present.’

“The left side of the mural is a street scene ‘culled for an idyllic community’ while on the right is a busy Manila street. The men on the streets bear the faces of media figures, press freedom icons, presidents of the National Press Club, national heroes who were prominent as writers, and ordinary folk.”

The painting features a cartoon of Joaquin “Chino” Roces preventing a child (America’s symbol) from shooting a bird on a street sign labeled “Kalayaan” (Freedom). Marcelo H. del Pilar and Mariano Ponce also appear in the mural under a “La Solidaridad” sign.

Andres Bonifacio is illustrated as a cigarette vendor with a tattoo–a character in the alibata used by the Magdalo soldiers in 2005–on his arm.

Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino is also shown with Dr. Jose Rizal reading a news article on abduction and the desaparecidos.

The original mural was copied to an 8-by-32-feet tarpaulin and was presented in the 4th Neo-Angono Public Arts Festival, an exhibit of art pieces by local artists. The copy was turned over to the College of Mass Communication on Dec. 18.

“If the NPC officials would just hide the defaced mural and would not restore it to its original beauty, then the painting would just suffer the same fate as the desaparecidos,” Gappi said.

Culture of impunity

Of the innumerable reported and unreported harassments, disappearances and murders of journalists, there have been very few investigations done, if there is truly any. Hiring killers and gunmen have become easy solutions in terminating explosive mouths and pens. Consequently, justice hardly surfaces. It finds the hired assassins difficultly, even more so the big men who hire them.

After the Radyo Cagayano incident, Jose Torres, Jr., NUJP spokesperson appealed to the government to punish the persons behind the crime, even if their group blames the incident and other attacks on the press to the present administration.

According to NUJP, 54 journalists have been killed under the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), on the other hand, counted 33 killings since 2001.

Of these 33 reported crimes, only those of Edgar Damalerio and Marlene Esperat have convicted the killers. Aside from the two, only five cases are in court.

Luis Teodoro, CMFR deputy director, said the resolution of crimes against journalists is made arduous by lack of witness and because of the Philippine National Police’s idea that cases filed in court are cases “solved.”

Atmosphere of fear

The present administration has undoubtedly created an atmosphere wherein people, especially those in the media, feel intimidation in knowing and expressing truth. There have been plenty of violations to our Constitution and even to the universal notion of right to freedom of expression.

The current government, according to activist groups and human rights parties, is undoubtedly far worse than a declared martial law. It has desperately made moves to suppress all kinds of resistance from students, farmers, workers and other sectors.

Malacañang announced on September 2005 the implementation of the Calibrated Preemptive Response (CPR) policy which bans rallies without prior permits and authorizes police to disperse opposing parties accordingly.

The policy clearly violates the provision in the Section 15 of Batas Pambansa 880 which reads:

“Every city and municipality in the country shall within six months after the effectivity of this Act establish or designate at least one suitable ‘freedom park’ or mall in their respective jurisdictions which, as far as practicable, shall be centrally located within the poblacion where demonstrations and meetings may be held at any time without the need of any prior permit.”

As if this wasn’t enough, months later, the president declared a National State of Emergency through Presidential Decree 1017 which enabled her to “command the Armed Forces of the Philippines to maintain law and order throughout the Philippines, prevent or suppress all forms of lawless violence as well any act of insurrection or rebellion and to enforce obedience to all the laws and to all decrees, orders and regulations promulgated by me personally or upon my direction.”

This happened shortly after the explosion of Gloriagate controversies and the filing of a presidential impeachment case which Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo described as “a clear and present danger to the safety and the integrity of the Philippine State and of the Filipino people.”

On July 2, 2006, the station of DWRC Radyo Cagayano, a community radio station in Baggao, Cagayan, was burned by eight armed men wearing masks.

The station blamed the soldiers of the 17th Infantry Battalion whose unit was only one kilometer away from the fire. Susan Mapa, DWRC station manager, also questioned the late reaction of the Philippine National Police (PNP), which was only 300 meters away. The investigators went to the site seven hours after the incident which started at around 2 a.m.

Mapa said the suspects, some of whom were in camouflage, combat boots, and M-16 armalite rifles, called their leader “Sir.”

On November 29 this year, the government’s arms proved their disrespect to media. During the coverage of the standoff at The Manila Peninsula hotel in Makati City, the police arrested, cuffed, and charged them with obstruction of justice.

Ellen Tordesillas, chief of reporter of Malaya, was one of the 30 reporters brought to Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan for “processing” – a euphemism which means arrest.

Tordesillas said in a talk for a journalism class that it was the first time in more than 30 years of practice that she was brought to a precinct for mere coverage.

“Endangered talaga ‘yung press freedom natin,” she said.

Needless to say, the government’s efforts to repress, instead of uphold, the freedom of the press continues. Although the RSF proclaims that conditions have improved, the climate of repression proves otherwise.

 

The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP)

By Neil Jerome C. Morales

The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) was a land reform law mandated by Republic Act No. 6657, signed by President Corazon Aquino on June 10, 1988. It was the fifth land reform law in fifty years, following the land reform laws of Presidents Manuel Quezon, Ramon Magsaysay, Diosdado Macapagal and Ferdinand Marcos.

According to RA 6657, CARP aims “for a more equitable distribution and ownership of land.” It meant to distribute lands to farmers in a span of 10 years, but was extended by the 11th Congress due to delays in land distribution and lack of budget allocation.

Section 3 of RA 6657 defined agrarian reform as the “redistribution of lands, regardless of crops or fruits produced, to farmers and regular farm workers who are landless” and “all other arrangements alternative to the physical redistribution of lands, such as production or profit-sharing, labor administration and the distribution of shares of stock which will allow beneficiaries to receive a just share of the fruits of the lands they work.”

Vast agricultural lands are distributed to the farmers tilling the land, whereas only a maximum of five hectares can be retained by the landlords, and three hectares for each of their children.

However, a common CARP loophole was that landlords escaped relinquishing their lands through land reclassifications. Lands classified by local zoning ordinances as residential, commercial and industrial lands are excluded from CARP.

SOURCE:
Department of Agrarian Reform website, http://www.dar.gov.ph

CARP and the Sumilao March

By Neil Jerome C. Morales

The battle continues for the Sumilao farmers and their call for the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). The farmers reached Manila on December 3 after a 1,700-kilometer march from San Vicente, Sumilao, Bukidnon to personally voice out their grievances to the Department of Agrarian Refom (DAR) and to Malacañang.

The Sumilao case

Higaonons were early settlers of a piece of agricultural land in Sumilao. In 1940, the Higaonons were forcibly evicted from a 243.885-hectare part of their ancestral land, which was converted into a cattle ranch by the Angeles family.
In the 1970s, Salvador Carlos owned
99.855 hectares of the ancestral land while Norberto Quisumbing held 144 hectares. It was Quisumbing’s land that raised controversy.

By 1988, the 144-hectare ancestral land was covered by the CARP and was set for distribution among 137 Mapadayonon Panaghiusa sa mga Lumad Alang sa Damlag (MAPALAD) Higaonon farmers.

Quisumbing and the Sangguniang Bayan of Sumilao conspired in 1994 to issue Resolution No. 24, converting the land of the Norberto Quisumbing, Sr. Management and Development Corporation from an agricultural to an industrial/institutional area.

However, the move ran contrary to 1993 Malacañang-issued Memorandum Circular No. 54 which gave guidelines for local governments converting agricultural lands for non-agricultural use. The circular stated that lands suitable for agricultural production were “non-negotiable for conversion.” Agriculturally suitable lands are those with irrigation or available for irrigation by the Department of Agriculture or the National Irrigation Administration.

The non-conversion rule was reversed by former Executive Secretary Ruben Torres, approving Quisumbing’s application for land conversion in 1996.

Torres said the land “would open great opportunities for employment and bring about real development in the area towards a sustained economic growth in the municipality.” However, he said giving out the land to non-tenant beneficiaries wouldn’t assure such benefits.”

President Fidel Ramos, through Deputy Executive Secretary Renato Corona, issued a “win-win solution” in 1998, where the farmers would get 100 hectares while 44 hectares would be retained for Quisumbing. In 1999, the Supreme Court (SC) ruled the Sumilao conversion case based on technicalities. The SC said the DAR failed to question the Torres conversion order on time.

According to the farmers, the Bukidnon Agro-Industrial Development Association (BAIDA) project that promised museums, libraries, and housing projects did not deliver at the end of the five-year conversion period.

Instead, Quisumbing sold the land in 2002 to San Miguel Foods, Inc., owned by businessman Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr., which converted it into a livestock farm for subsidiary Monterey Foods Corporation.

The Sumilao farmers are now petitioning for the cancellation of the 1996 conversion order. They said Quisumbing did not comply with the order’s conditions since he failed to begin development work in the land a year from the finality of the conversion order on August 25, 1999. Quisumbing, they said, wasn’t able to complete the development plan for the property in five years since 1999 and also submit a written request for extension within six months before the lapse of the five-year period in 2004.

The charges violated provisions in the DAR Administrative Order No. 1 of 1990, or the “Revised Rules and Regulations Governing Conversion of Agricultural Lands to Non Agricultural Uses.”

The verdict for the Sumilao case is still pending under DAR. Until the case is solved, the Sumilao farmers will keep on airing their calls for their ancestral lands.

Sustained Defiance

Amidst escalating repression, student publications remain undaunted

By Alaysa Tagumpay E. Escandor

The present is a time of suppression.

Exclamations of dissent are silenced in a climate of impunity. While top officials vow to “protect democracy,” the people’s democratic rights are snuffed out at every turn. The right to peaceably assemble is met with police and military brutality; the exercise of free speech and expression is marred by the continuing murder of journalists. Meanwhile, members of legitimate organizations, such as the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), are proclaimed “enemies of the state.”

Universities are not exempt from such repressive measures, which have become “normalized” in a supposedly “liberal environment.” As student publications boldly expose anti-student policies, school officials retaliate by attacking campus press freedom. Already, the number of campus press freedom violations (CPV’s) has increased at an alarming rate. Recent events show how student publications function in a constricted space, under the watchful gaze of the school administration. Campus papers must be monitored, the authorities reason.

Press freedom, however, cannot survive in an atmosphere of control – only its illusion.

Students’ rights above all

The existence of student publications is an affirmation of the students’ democratic rights.

The onset of the American period saw the creation of numerous universities and colleges under a colonial administration. The relative proliferation of academic institutions, and their emphasis on discussion and debate, was key to the formation of student publications. Founded on the ideals of democracy and the right to information, students saw the need to disseminate alternative narratives against the American-controlled media.

Students finance, manage and maintain the publication’s operations, usually without monetary compensation. Publication funds come solely from the collected student fund, making students its sole publisher. As such, the practice of campus journalism veers against the orientation of mainstream media, which are largely commercial and corporate-owned. Free from the attachment to profit accumulation, the students’ welfare and interests are the publication’s primary priority. On its pages, topics on repression, imperialism, capitalism and social taboos see print – a testament to its bold discussion of far-ranging, but nevertheless, critical issues. As vital agents of change, campus journalism continues to condemn the status quo’s deceptive illusions and contradictions, without fear or apology.

Uncowed, unswayed

Thus, the nature of campus publications is necessarily antagonistic, never subservient. History is replete with instances when campus journalism faced assault from both the school administration and the national government.

The near absence of autonomous media during martial law drove campus publications to expose what the Marcos regime sought to hide: the unprecedented height of corruption and human rights violations. Among these publications were Philippine College of Commerce’s (now Polytechnic University of the Philippines) Ang Malaya, Ateneo de Manila University’s Pandayan, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila’s Hasik, Mapua Institute of Technology’s Balawis, University of the East’s The Dawn, and University of the Philippines-Diliman’s Philippine Collegian.

Not a few student journalists were imprisoned, tortured and murdered. For instance, former Philippine Collegian editor-in-chief Abraham Sarmiento, Jr. was arrested by the military under the guise of “protective custody” and subsequently killed. The same occurred to Liliosa Hilao, former editor-in-chief of Hasik.

Decades after martial law, the same conditions prevail, if not worse. Human rights violations have claimed thousands of lives; corruption has never been more blatant. Militancy remains a valid call for student publications.

Gag order

Yet, in a system that fosters acquiescence and breeds indifference, militancy is not without cost.

Student publications and school administrations often have contending concerns. While the former dedicates itself to the struggle for student rights, the latter often abides by the dictates of state abandonment. Thus, the administrations’ policies on commercialization and privatization are promptly condemned by student publications. In the ensuing debate, the administration is not unscathed.

Inside the academic institution, however, publications hold no administrative power. In contrast, school administrations can easily impose their authority upon the student paper. According to Vijae Alquisola, CEGP national deputy secretary-general, among the most common forms of CPV’s are non-mandatory collection of publication funds, appointment and intrusion of advisers and censorship. The publication staff may also suffer harassment, demotion, and academic persecution, such as dismissal, filing of disciplinary cases, rejection of enrolment, and non-entry to the university.

This year, 90 percent of recorded CPV’s involved student papers that openly campaigned against the administrations’ commercialization and privatization schemes. Among these are University of the Northern PhilippinesThe Tandem, Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology’s Technozette, Tarlac State University’s The Work, Ang Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa’s The Warden and Technological University of the Philippines’s The TUP Artisan.

Meanwhile, the CEGP describes Republic Act No. 7079, or the Campus Journalism Act of 1991 (CJA), as “seriously flawed.” For instance, the CJA permits the non-mandatory collection of publication fees, without which a student paper cannot operate. Further, the act does not contain any penalty clause, leaving erring administrations unpunished. While the CJA claims to protect campus press freedom, administrations can manipulate its provisions against student publications.

Student publications are unremitting in their task to uphold the students’ rights. On the other hand, students must also vigilantly protect the publications from the administrations’ repressive policies. An autonomous student publication is a mark of democracy, the absence of which can only mean a violation of the students’ rights.

The Student Regent (SR)

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

The student regent is the sole student representative in the Board of Regents (BOR), the highest governing body of the University. Its office has not only served as a link for communication between the students and the board on policies and decisions affecting them, but has also spoken for other sectors in the University.

Although students comprise the majority of the University’s population, the original UP Charter did not provide for student representation in the BOR. 1970 saw the first recorded time a student (USC chairperson Fernando Barican) sat in the BOR, though as a non-voting observer.

Two years later the UP Charter was amended to include an SR in the BOR. However, none arose during the remaining term of Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, who signed the amending proclamation. Former UP President (now Senator) Edgardo Angara proposed choosing an interim SR in 1983 and 1984. Yet it only became a reality in 1987 when then USC Chair (now also Senator) Francis Pangilinan was appointed to a regular voting post in the BOR.

Because no rules were initially formed for direct student selection of the SR, the first ten regents were nominated by the UP President. By 1997, the UP System Student Councils (now the General Assembly of Student Councils or GASC) drafted the Codified Rules for Student Regent Selection (CRSRS). Every SR since then has gone through the procedures outlined in the code.

From college to system

According to the CRSRS, any Filipino student currently enrolled in the university at the time of nomination who has an accumulated residency of at least one year including periods of residency and/or leave of absence and has a track record reflective of his/her commitment to serve the studentry may be nominated for SR.

The selection process begins with a nomination at the college level. Should a student council decide to nominate a candidate to the unit level after deliberations, a convocation then picks a nominee to elevate to the system-wide level.

At the system-wide assembly, the autonomous units or AUs in Baguio, Diliman, Los Baños, Manila, Visayas, and Mindanao each have two votes, while the regional units or RUs in San Fernando, Cebu, Tacloban, and Palo have one vote each.

The CRSRS has been amended six times since its initial drafting. At times, proposed amendments to the code have raised controversy. Two such proposals, both from UP Diliman student councils, were junked by the October 2007 assembly.

The first by the School of Economics Student Council sought to add a minimum academic requirement for SR candidates. The other by the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy Student Council proposed to remove the role of the Katipunan ng mga Sangguniang Mag-aaral sa UP (KASAMA sa UP) from the SR selection process. The KASAMA sa UP is an alliance of student councils in the UP system tasked to disseminate information about the selection process.

Issues and contentions

In voicing out student sentiments, the SR has fought against “anti-student” policies. In December 2006, SR Raffy Jones Sanchez led protests against the eventually approved proposal to increase the 2007 tuition fees. On the negative outcome of the increase, the succeeding SR James Mark Terry Ridon recently presented a policy review paper to the BOR.

However, the SR office is not without flaws. An infamous case of corruption in the OSR happened in 2000 when Hannah Eunice Seraña pocketed P15 million given to her for the renovation of Vinzons Hall.

The office has not escaped the issue of “Diliman-centrism,” which supposedly goes against the OSR’s aim to represent the whole UP studentry. Only six of the 20 SRs came from units other than Diliman.

SOURCES:

Codified Rules for Student Regent Selection (CRSRS)

UP Charter and subsequent amendments (Presidential Decree No. 58 and Executive Order No. 204)

Office of the Student Regent

Office of the Secretary of the University

Minutes of the 1065th BOR meeting, Feb. 23, 1985

Minutes of the 1138th BOR meeting, Dec. 17, 1999

Palatino, Mong. “The UP Student Council during the storm” and “The heady 80s.” Retrieved 11 November 2007 from http://www.mongpalatino.motime.com/archive/2006-04.htm.

CMC students pay respect to departed UP profs

By Mark Anthony B. Gubagaras

 

Students of the College of Mass Communication offered prayers to UP literature professors Monico Atienza and Rene Villanueva, who passed away recently, in a candle lighting gathering held Dec. 7 under the Plaridel Hall skywalk.

 

Both Atienza and Villanueva taught at the Department of Filipino and Philippine Literature at the College of Arts and Letters.

 

Journalism student and League of Filipino Students (LFS)-CMC member Marianni Lasam said that Atienza “lived a simple life” as a faculty member. She cited Atienza’s readiness to help students, as seen in the list of accounts he had to deal with the Student Loan Board regarding the tuition loans of students who asked him to be the co-guarantor.

 

Communication Research department representative Airah Cadiogan read a feature article Lasam wrote for a Journalism class about Atienza’s life as a member of the student movement and as an educator.

 

Prof. Josefina Santos, officer-in-charge of the Broadcast Communication department, who also met Atienza when she was still an instructor, also credited the outstanding contributions of the professor during his teaching stint.

 

Atienza died on Dec. 5 in his house in UP Campus after being comatose for almost a year. He has been in such state after suffering from episodes of heart seizures due to the blockage of his air passage by an undetected mass in his throat. He was part of the First Quarter Storm movement during the Martial Law period.

 

Meanwhile, Villanueva, a prominent figure in Philippine children’s literature, died on Dec. 4 at the Philippine Heart Center due to stroke. He is a Hall of Fame awardee of the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, and was the executive producer of the early-90’s children’s show “Batibot.”

 

(With reports from the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Tinig.com)

Faculty-student relations body to hold workshop with CMC org reps

By Ma. Clarisse S. Osteria

CMC Student Council Chairperson Karol Mark Yee said that College Secretary Jane Vinculado is planning a workshop for organization leaders and members of the Faculty and Student Relations Committee (FSRC) to assess points of improvement in the orgs’ application processes.

“We intend to map out here each other’s ideas, comments and thoughts, and hopefully come up with a very good system,” said Yee, also an FSRC member.

Although the date of the activity has not yet been set, it will be a follow-up to the FSRC’s meeting last September with org reps and their advisers on suspected hazing in application processes of CMC organizations.

Hazing under Republic Act 8049 or the Anti-Hazing Law, also found in the UP Student Guide, includes “placing the recruit, neophyte or applicant in some embarrassing or humiliating situations such as forcing him/her to do menial, silly, foolish and similar tasks or activities.”

Saying that the CMC-SC did not support public humiliation in college organizations, Yee added that orgs could choose alternative activities that could still provide the skills needed to enter these organizations, such as productions where applicants could sell tickets.

May patience doon, may resourcefulness, may management, may organizational skills, tapos di ka pa mahihiya, tapos may output pa for everyone,” he said.

Expect changes

Veronica Guingon, membership committee head of the UP-CMC Broadcasting Association (Broad Ass), said changes were already made to Broad Ass’s application process. As an example, she said the size of the “I’m a proud Broad Ass applicant” nametag worn by the applicants is now smaller than the one used before.

Krystel Agnote, president of the UP Samahan ng mga Mag-aaral sa Komunikasyon (UP SAMASKOM), also said there have been changes in their application process, yet she did not give details. She said students should just observe the changes once SAMASKOM’s application process begins.

Agnote said SAMASKOM was finalizing an outline of its activities to be passed to the college secretary.

Though the required passing of such outlines has been tied to the CMC administration’s campaign against hazing in the organizations, Yee said they would be used for reservation purposes. He said the outlines, according to Prof. Vinculado, were more intended for “miscommunication that (might take) place when reserving locations and equipment.”

The FSRC acts as a liaison between the students and the CMC administration on important matters such as organizational concerns. Prof. Vinculado, as the college secretary, also acts as the FSRC coordinator.

Other members of the FSRC are Dr. Fernando Paragas (Comm Res Dept.), Prof. Marinela Aseron (BC Dept.), Prof. Patrick Campos (UP Film Institute) and Prof. Lourdes Simbulan (Journalism Dept.) CMC org heads are also included in the FSRC.

The Anti-Hazing Law, passed during the Ramos administration, seeks to prevent hazing in membership rites for fraternities, sororities and organizations. Violators could face up to life imprisonment.

The hazing issue in UP resurfaced after Cris Anthony Mendez, a graduating student of the National College of Public Administration and Governance died while allegedly undergoing the initiation process of the Sigma Rho fraternity. #

UPD nominates USC chair for next SR

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

 

University Student Council Chairperson Shahana Abdulwahid will represent UP Diliman at the system-wide student regent selection in Baguio from Dec. 21 to 22 as the campus’s nominee for next year’s student regent.

 

The University Search Committee (UC), composed of USC officers and college student council representatives nominated Abdulwahid with 14 “yes” votes last Dec. 11 during the university-level SR selection at the School of Economics. Two voted “no” while six others abstained.

 

USC officers from the Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND-UP), Abdulwahid’s party, and representatives of college councils dominated by the party made up most of those who voted “yes.”

 

The College of Mass Communication through Student Council Chairperson Karol Yee and Journalism representative Jose Carlos Maningat voted “yes.” Maningat later said the CMC-SC officers agreed on the vote. Yee added in a separate interview that majority of the council believed Abdulwahid was “capable” for the post.

 

Abdulwahid, an MA Islamic Studies student, was first nominated by the College of Education Student Council and was the lone college-level nominee in Diliman.

 

Before becoming USC chair, she won as councilor with the highest number of votes in the 2006 USC elections and served as chair of the Katipunan ng mga Sangguniang Mag-aaral sa UP (KASAMA sa UP), an alliance of more than 30 UP student councils, in 2005.

 

‘Continue to fight’

 

Speaking at the university convocation, Abdulwahid said the Centennial student regent would face much expectation in terms of “advocacy, commitment, discipline and enthusiasm.” She said the student regent should focus on “safeguarding the interests of the students and marginalized sectors of the University.”

 

Abdulwahid singled out this year’s tuition and other fee increases (TOFI) as the main issue affecting UP students.

 

She said the “unfavorable result” of the TOFI’s implementation outweighed its benefits and would lead to policies of commercialization that had “detrimental effects to the students and UP community.” She later added that her first priority if selected as SR would be to “continue the struggle of the students against TOFI.”

 

A challenge for the SR, Abdulwahid said, would be to reach out to the students and make them participate in issues that affect them as UP students and as Filipino citizens.

 

“The [Office of the Student Regent or OSR] does not and cannot offer a catch-all solution to all student concerns and does not and cannot address all student problems without the support of the students,” she said.

 

She said she plans to consult with the different UP units frequently to address the lack of participation of councils in the General Assembly of Student Councils (GASC). She said she suggested using the GASC not only for SR selection-related activities but also for the councils to voice out their concerns.

 

In an interview with TNP after the convocation, Abdulwahid said that if selected, she also plans to conduct leadership seminars for student leaders and organizations, establish “student centers” similar to Vinzons Hall for orgs in other UP units, and undertake the rehabilitation of Vinzons.

 

System-wide selection

 

If selected, Abdulwahid would be the first Muslim student regent and the fifteenth SR from Diliman. According to the Codified Rules for Student Regent Selection (CRSRS), she would have to leave her USC post to current vice-chair Viktor Samuel Fontanilla, who presided over the Diliman selection.

 

Three other units have also named their nominees as of Dec. 11, said incumbent SR James Mark Terry Ridon. The other nominees are Rula Yael Gongora of UP Los Baños, Deo Florence Onda of UP Baguio, and Jose Ignacio Tenorio of UP Manila.

 

The two-day meeting in Baguio—the second convened by the GASC this year—will bring together representatives of college councils from the different autonomous and regional units. Presided by Ridon, they will narrow the nominees to three after letting all nominees present their vision papers and plans of action.

 

After further deliberation and questioning, the GASC will select a final SR nominee through a consensus. If not, the selection will be subject to voting until one gets the GASC’s mandate.

 

UP President Emerlinda Roman will then endorse the GASC-selected nominee for appointment by President Arroyo. The 21st student regent will serve from January to December 2008. #