CMCSC, ABMC condemn dean’s response to eUP team statement

By Merryll Phae Red Carao

Students from the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP CMC) expressed disappointment over CMC Dean Elena Pernia’s statement on the eUP Project Team’s criticism of Journalism graduates Ronn Bautista and Krixia Subingsubing’s investigative thesis.

According to the dean’s statement, no breach in academic freedom and no attack on  free speech were committed when the eUP Team published a critique of Bautista and Subingsubing’s investigative report on the project. 

In a statement published Aug. 29, the CMC Student Council (CMCSC) responded to Dean Pernia’s claims, saying the dean “watered down” the concept of academic freedom and free speech by equating them to freely choosing a thesis topic and being published online.

The CMCSC said the dean forgot to “consider the freedom of the students to freely express their critiques, and to do academic investigative research that aims to expose the anomalies in our administration without any prior constraint.”

The Council also expressed frustration on the eUP team’s claims of having exercised only their freedom of speech when they associated malice to the authors of the thesis, describing the investigative report as “poorly conducted research work,” and a “witch hunt disguised an academic endeavour.”

CMCSC Chairperson Almira Abril added that the eUP statement created a “chilling effect” on the studentry, saying the next attempts to expose other anomalous projects of the university might be met similarly.

Meanwhile, in a statement published hours before the CMCSC’s, CMC-based progressive organization Anakbayan Media Collective (ABMC) shared the same sentiments.

“Sa halip na harapin ang mga panawagan ng mga mag-aaral at kawani ay lantarang ipinagtatanggol ng eUP team ang kanyang sarili sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay malisya, pagpapasinungaling, at paninira sa kritikal na suri ng mga mag-aaral,” ABMC said.

The organization also asserted that Pernia’s statement further dampens the discourse surrounding the failure of the eUP project.

“Sa kabila ng malawak na kampanya na panagutin ang eUP team ay malinaw na hindi siya naninindigan kasama ng mga estudyante, kawani, alumni at guro ng Kolehiyo ng Pangmadlang Komunikasyon,” ABMC said.


Maskom community demands apology

In a Facebook post published Aug. 8, the eUP team said the Bautista-Subingsubing thesis makes “misleading claims, questionable conclusions and false allegations,” and that Bautista and Subingsubing intended to “derail an important initiative that will modernize and improve the operations of the University.”

In response to this statement, former Dean Rolando Tolentino spearheaded a signature campaign demanding an apology from the eUP team.

The campaign, signed by more than 300 members of the UP CMC community, described the eUP statement as “a serious breach of academic ethics” and an “attack on free expression.”

“Its statement in fact declares that any criticism of a UP administration project or initiative is made in bad faith and constitutes an offense against attempts by the University leadership to improve UP processes and systems,” the campaign read.


A ‘plurality of views’

Despite the statements claiming that the eUP statement was indeed an attack on free speech and academic freedom, Pernia believes in the ‘plurality of views’ that exists in UP, wherein all individuals or groups concerned may express their opinions and critiques freely.

Pernia said that in releasing a statement that criticized the Bautista-Subingsubing thesis, the eUP team only exercised its right to be heard in the way it saw fit.

In response to the various statements released against her own, Pernia remains steadfast that her intention was only to protect the right to free speech by all parties. In an interview, she reiterated that she “defended everybody” and not only the eUP team.

“I [also] stand by Ronn and Krixia. I stand by the Journalism department. I believe in free expression. I did not defend anyone [because] I defended everybody’s right to free expression,” the dean said.

The dean, a former readers’ advocate for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, stressed the difference between a news story and an academic work such as a thesis, and how this contrast also affects the way in which parties involved may express their differing views.

“In media, if the thesis were published as an investigative report, there would have been venue for the news source [in this case eUP] to put out its position and find equal publication,” Pernia said.

“But the thesis did not see publication. If it were published, the issues brought up by the eUP team would have found publication alongside the investigative report,” she added.

However, Abril reiterated the council’s disappointment over the dean’s statement, saying that they expected Pernia to stand by their calls to uphold academic freedom.

She called for the studentry to be “fearless” in exposing all anti-student and anti-people policies being implemented in the University.

“Sa ganitong panahong nakikita nating ang ating administrasyon ay hindi titindig para sa ating mga karapatan, tayo na mismo ang tumayo,” Abril said.

Bautista and Subingsubing’s thesis entitled System Error: An Investigative Study on the implementations of the eUP project in the University of the Philippines earned the Best Thesis award in Investigative Journalism in June 2016.


CMC Dean speaks up on eUP Project Team statement

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.

UP Journ grad on eUP Project Team statement: ‘Let the story speak for itself’

By Frances Josephine Espeso


“My job as a journalist is to tell the story, not to involve myself personally with the issue,” University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman journalism graduate Krixia Subingsubing said in response to the eUP Project Team’s statement on their investigative thesis about the information technology (IT) project.

Together with fellow journalism fresh graduate Ronn Bautista, Subingsubing chose the eUP Project as the subject for their undergraduate thesis accomplished June 2016 under the guidance of award-winning investigative journalist Yvonne Chua.

The eUP Project, an IT initiative of current UP President Alfredo E. Pascual, is a system-wide information integration project.

In light of system-wide student protests and backlash towards eUP and the numerous glitches of the Student Academic Information System (SAIS), one of its five core information systems, during the UP Los Baños registration period, Bautista had released their investigative report on the eUP Project on Facebook, Aug. 6.

The report, hailed as Best Thesis by the UP Department of Journalism, had prompted a statement from the eUP Project Team, calling it “poorly conducted research work” and “a witch hunt disguised as an academic endeavor.”

“I expected the backlash from the eUP Team,” Subingsubing said, having been forewarned by their adviser.

While the thesis itself would be enough to rebutt several points of the eUP Project Team’s statement, Subingsubing wanted to reiterate, however, that “brand references in the bidding documents are not allowed, no exceptions,” citing Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) authorities and the law.

In their statement, the eUP Project Team had said “reference to brand names is a common practice in government procurement, particularly for technical items including ICT hardware and software.”

They also claimed that it was done due to the “difficulty in specifying quality and functionality in generic terms,” adding that there are numerous examples of purchase documents on the GPPB website that include brand names for clarity of the specified requirement.

However, Subingsubing said institutions are not aware of the 2009 revision of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Republic Act 9184, also known as the Government Procurement Reform Act, which overrides the manual initially allowing brand references.

Bautista and Subingsubing mentioned this in their thesis where GPPB lawyer Diane Borja said the mistake and the root cause of the problem is borne out of ignorance of the new IRR.

“UP is the vanguard of good governance, remember, so it should stand above the policy, not fall behind it,” Subingsubing said.

On the other hand, the eUP team had also criticized the timing of the Bautista and Subingsubing’s study, saying the proper time to evaluate the project would have been after completion of implementation, when the system has stabilized and its good and bad impacts are already apparent.

Studying the project during its implementation is just as valid as studying it postmortem,” Subingsubing stated.

“Paano mo madidiagnose yung mga problema if you don’t want to look at the issues midway through the project?” she added.

Besides rebutting the above mentioned points, however, Subingsubing said that they had decided to stick with what Chua had advised: “let the story speak for itself.”

The Journalism professor and VERA Files trustee had been very supportive during the undertaking, Subingsubing added. “[Si Ma’am Chua] yung nag-push samin na i-pursue yung procurement side nung thesis actually, at binigyan niya kami ng independent sources to corroborate the story.”

The endeavour had not been without its difficulties, especially with a then-lack of a Freedom of Information act or even an executive order, which would have compelled UP offices to release pertinent documents.

She also said that initially, President Pascual did not want to provide them with financial breakdowns.

Before obtaining the documents, it took them multiple meetings with the UP President to convince him that it was needed in the report, adding that they would remind Pascual that the thesis’ prerogative is to assess eUP’s current efficiency and effectivity.

“Sure, the modernization of the ICT infra of the university is a laudable concept, but to get there, you have to know what it is exactly that’s happening on the ground so that you can address it, so you can achieve your goals for the project,” Subingsubing said.

Meanwhile, UP Department of Journalism chair Dr. Rachel E. Khan released a statement to Tinig ng Plaridel in response to that of the eUP Project Team’s.

“The Journalism department has a high regard for academic freedom and therefore, students are given the freedom to choose their thesis topics for as long as it is viable and newsworthy. Being a National University and a public entity, events and issues that involve the University of the Philippines are deemed newsworthy. Therefore, students are not prevented from covering issues about their alma mater.

“The Journalism faculty makes sure that students undergo the rigors of the profession in undertaking investigative reporting by guiding their efforts in making sure that the report is based on fact and can be backed up by evidence. This is the case for the thesis on e-UP written by Ronn Bautista and Krixia Subingsubing, which was recognized for its rigor in research and chosen as best thesis. It was also awarded by judges from outside the UP community during the recent Philippine Journalism Research Conference.

“At the same time, we recognize that the thesis may be taken out of context if only excerpts are read. One needs to read the ‘entire’ investigative piece to see that the report is based on gathered data and not just on opinion. However, when excerpts are placed in FB posts, the information provided in that chosen excerpt may be biased or taken out of context.”

The release of the study on social media has made it available for public consumption, and Subingsubing encouraged everyone to take part in the discourse.

“I’d like to encourage everyone to read the thesis–challenge it, if they must–but we must do it within the bounds of genuine academic discourse,” Subingsubing said.

“As Ronn would say it, to dismiss it as poor scholarship is to be ignorant of the quality and nature of the voices involved in the study,” she added.

(Photo by Mr. Israel Buenafe of the UP College of Mass Communication, grabbed from the UP CMC Facebook page.)

Botong Isko: CMC parties bare campaign expenses

by Nicole-Anne Lagrimas

The College Mass Communication chapter of the Student Alliance for the Advancement of Democratic Rights in UP (STAND UP CMC) reported a total fund of P10,900 for the two-week campaign.

Meanwhile, the UP CMC Interdependent Student-Centered Activism (UP CMC ISA) filed a budget of P30,000.

According to their most recent financial statements, both parties sourced their funds for this year’s campaign from alumni and member donations, and in the case of STAND UP, candidates’ fees. UP CMC ISA also relied on income-generating projects such as a rummage and a food sale.

“Tingin ko, naging sapat lang naman yung gastos para sa buong kampanya para dun sa pangangailangan,” said Justine Siscar, Chairperson of STAND UP CMC.

“Hindi rin siya lumalabis at ineensure na batay rin sa kakayahan nung mga members at candidates yung contributions na binibigay nila,” she added.

Member contributions for STAND UP CMC figure at P2,950 while alumni solicitations are at P5,500, which constitutes 50 percent of the party’s budget. Candidates’ fees are at P2,450.

Other expenses of the party, such as thematic posters and pins fall on the university-wide finances and are distributed among the local chapters, added Siscar.

On the other hand, UP CMC ISA’s budget came mainly from an individual donation worth P20,000, which consists of 67 percent of the party’s total funds. The remaining P10,000 came from their earnings in a food sale and a rummage sale.

The budget allotted for the campaign changes every year, said Dianne Olivan, UP CMC ISA’s campaign manager.

“What we do before [the elections] is we try to earn money by selling stuff, then that money, regardless of its amount, malaki man o maliit, will be used for the elections,” she added. They also resort to contributions from members to sustain finances.

Expenses of both parties mainly include operating expenses such as rent for the campaign house, food, groceries and printing and reproduction of publicity/propaganda materials.

Specifications on the type and size of campaign materials are stipulated in the University Student Electoral Code, as is a clean-up bond of P1,500 for university-wide parties and P500 for individual candidates to ensure that they promptly clear the campus of their campaign materials one week after the elections.

There is no provision on spending, however, which is something the two local parties seem to have differing views on.

“Mahalaga naman nagiging self-regulating yung mga partido para siguraduhin na hindi lumalabis yung gastos nila kaysa mayroon pa na mga provisions sa electoral code. Sa totoo lang kasi, you can only spend so much for a two-week campaign, lalo na for local slates,” said Siscar.

Meanwhile, Olivan said, “We believe that we are in need of such provision, to give an equal footing among the political parties.”

“Similarly, we are a small political party of 30 members, and we know that our opposite is a big one, and probably has more access to more resources. We need a certain provision that will limit our spending din para pantay ang starting point,” she added.

#FebIbig: Traditions old and new

The first ever HaranaFest in UP Diliman wasn’t just an ordinary choral competition. By Shara Cayetano.

by Shara Cayetano

Nearly a week since Valentine’s Day, an enamored crowd occupied the old seats of the UP Theater. Five couples stood on stage – some holding hands, some smiling at each other. Not all of them were ‘together’, but they were all couples, in a sense.

Whether they were married, best friends, newly in love, or business partners, it didn’t matter to the crowd.

To them, it was all love.

This was just one of the gimmicks at the recently held HaranaFest, UP Diliman’s new intercollegiate choral competition whose concepts stemmed from UP’s Karolfest.

The previous year’s Karolfest did not push through due to the academic calendar shift; hence,  UP’s new version of the Christmas choral competition.

This year’s competition is aligned with UP’s Buwan ng Lualhati, which pays tribute to National Artists Manuel Conde, NVM Gonzalez, Severino Montano, and  Lamberto Avellana who are all celebrating the first year after their centenary.

The last of them, Lamberto Avellana, inspired the contest piece for the first HaranaFest.  Entitled “Anakdalita,”  the theme song of an award-winning Avellana movie with the same name. The movie delved into themes of war and prostitution, and its theme song is equal parts serenade and call for help. Suffice to say, the tune and lyrics are a far cry from today’s love songs.

But that didn’t stop the contestants from wooing the audience, which included supportive collegemates, parents, and friends.

First to perform was the KarolFest 5-time placer Engineering Choir, which followed their “Anakdalita” performance with a dreamy rendition of Moulin Rouge song “Come What May.”

Law Charivari, also a 5-time placer, chose Elizabeth Ramsey’s “Waray Waray” for their second piece, lifting spirits with the energetic number.

Himig Maskom, a 4-time placer, followed with more choreography in their version of “Kapag Tumibok ang Puso,” ending the contest proper on a high note.

In the end, the Engineering Choir prevailed to take home the first HaranaFest championship title.

“[We met up] two times a week to practice,” said president Matthew Alcantara, who celebrated with his choirmates onstage after the announcement. As soon as the semester started, he said, the choir began to practice. But practice had to happen around another important thing – studies. “Syempre acads ang priority,” he added.

College of Engineering Choir president Matthew Alcantara. Photo by Paul Gumagay.

For Alcantara, the choice of Anakdalita as contest piece is a nod to cultural preservation.

“Kung hindi ginawang contest piece yung Anakdalita, I think hindi malalaman na may ganoong kanta,” he said.

Law Charivari member Jocel Dilag sees it another way.

The piece, he said, was surprising because people expected the chosen piece to be romantic.

“But [Anakdalita] captured the hearts of people with a deeper kind of love – you try to understand the plight of the people, the poor, the oppressed, so it’s a good choice to begin this inaugural HaranaFest,” he said.

All the hype about the HaranaFest brings back a classic Parokya lyric: “Uso pa ba ang harana?”

Chancellor Michael Tan hopes so.

The HaranaFest is a new tradition, he said, calling the three competing colleges “pioneers.”

The tradition of an intercollegiate chorale competition has long existed in UP.

However, this year, the tradition takes a new season and a new name, yet remains the same but for the event’s selected songs, which are embedded in traditional Filipino culture.

Despite the Karolfest not pushing through last year, the HaranaFest, its successor in the intercollegiate chorale competition, proves that the tradition of celebrating music in the university is far from dying.’

Palagi kaming sumasali para hindi mahinto yung tradition na ito sa UP,” said Himig Maskom president Raiza Javier.

“Mukhang magiging annual thing na ‘yung Haranafest, so sana sa mga susunod na taon mas marami nang sumali,” she added.

The UP Theater may have not been full that night, but the crowd was no less than enthusiastic.

In a way, that was love, too. Love for music. Love in the form of support for friends.

Nearly a week after Valentine’s Day, an enamoured crowd occupied the stage of the UP Theater, in an open expression of love.

Choir members hugged, gave each other flowers, sought out cheering friends from the audience. To the observer, there were no distinctions: it was all love.

Ito yung nag-uunite sa colleges, bagama’t isa itong competition. [Ang] pagcelebrate ng love for music,” Javier said.

The HaranaFest crowd’s enthusiasm only said one thing:

Parokya, uso pa nga.

6 CMC profs awarded UP Artist titles

The dean, associate dean and four other faculty members of the College of Mass Communication (CMC) were recognized as UP Artists by the University of the Philippines Arts Productivity System (APS) on Wednesday.

By Justine Jordan

Photos by Thomas Benjamin Roca, UP Aperture

The dean, associate dean and four other faculty members of the College of Mass Communication (CMC) were recognized as UP Artists by the University of the Philippines Arts Productivity System (APS) on Wednesday.

The APS, which aims to promote creative productivity for national development, held the awarding ceremony for 28 honorees at the Bahay ng Alumni.

In her welcome remarks, Vice-President for Academic Affairs Prof. Gisela Padilla-Concepcion said the awardees joined “the ranks of the prestigious circle of achievers.”

The titles were given under eight categories: Music and Dance, Film, Fine Arts, Literary Works, Radio, Television and Related Media, Scholarly Work, and Theatre.

Four faculty members of the UP Film Institute (UPFI) were accorded Artist titles.

Dr. Rolando Tolentino (UP Artist II), CMC dean and a faculty member of the UPFI, received his title for literary works. Some of his pieces include Almanak ng Isang Aktibista and Kathang Isip: Mga Kuwentong Fantastiko, where he served as co-editor.

Tolentino said it that it was expected for one to become more productive if he/she would wish to further his/her title as UP Artist. He added that those who wished to hone their craft must dedicate more time in its pursuit.

“[O]ne would not be human, one would not be an Iskolar or Guro ng Bayan, if one is not also able to uplift his or her soul through the arts,” Tolentino said.

Assistant Professor Sari Raissa Dalena (UP Artist II), who directed Cinema One Originals Best Picture film Ka Oryang (2011), and Dr. Grace Alfonso (UP Artist I), director of Flames of Love (2012) received their titles under the Film category. Alfonso is also the Chancellor of the UP Open University.

Assistant Professor Jason Banal was conferred the title of UP Artist II for Fine Arts. Since 1998, Banal has been holding both solo and group exhibitions of his works around the world – from film, photography, painting and other installations.

Honorees under Radio, Television and Related Media were Assistant Professor Fernando A. Austria, Jr. (UP Artist I) and Assistant Professor Danilo Arao (UP Artist I), faculty members from the Broadcast Communication and Journalism departments, respectively. Arao is also the Associate Dean of CMC.

Arao advised those who wanted to go into artistic production to think more of how their outputs could shape public opinion and less of how they would get awards for their work.

“You should aspire in terms of reaching out to the people, because part of the responsibility of a UP Professor or a UP Artist is to help mold public opinion through their outputs,” said Arao, also a columnist for Pinoy Weekly.

Other awardees include Prof. Gerard Rey Lico, Ph. D., Artist III and Arch. Jose Danilo Silvestre, Artist II for Architecture; and Prof. Patrick Flores, Ph. D., Artist II, Prof. Leonilo Doloricon, Artist II, Associate Prof. Ruben Fortunato De Jesus, Artist II, Assistant Prof. Ma. Eileen Ramirez, Artist I and Associate Prof. Reuben Cañete, Ph. D., Artist I for Fine Arts.

Along with Tolentino, seven professors were conferred Artist titles for Literature: Prof. Jose Dalisay, Ph. D., Artist III, Prof. Ricardo De Ungria, MFA, Artist I, Associate Prof. Eugene Evasco, Ph. D., Artist II, Prof. Jose Neil Carmelo Garcia, Ph. D., Artist I, Prof. Rosario Yu, Ph. D., Artist II, Assistant Prof. Layeta Bucoy, UPLB, Artist II, and Associate Prof. Victor Emmanuel Carmelo Nadera, Jr., Ph. D.

Prof. Priscelina P. Legasto, Ph., D. received an Artist I title for Scholarly Work, while Associate Prof. Josefina F. Estrella, MFA, Artist II,  Assistant Prof. Dexter M. Santos, Artist II and Prof. Alexander Cortes, Ph. D., Artist II were awarded for their work in Theatre.

Associate Prof. Jonas Baes, Ph. D. Artist II and Prof. Josefino Toledo, Artist III were awarded for Music and Dance, along with Assistant Prof. Maria Christine Muyco, Ph. D., Artist II and Associate Prof. La Verne Dela Peña, Ph. D., Artist I, who were awarded in 2012.

The UP Artist title, effective from 2012 to 2014, has three ranks. Honorees given the UP Artist I title will be receiving at total of P 120,000 per annum; UP Artist II, P 144,000 per annum; and UP Artist III, P 180,000 per annum.

The APS is the artistic counterpart of the UP Scientific Productivity System, which confers titles to faculty members from the sciences.

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