Amid persisting attacks, student journos urge UP to streamline processes for funding

Story by K.C.

As threats, harassment and red-tagging of student journalists persist, campus publications in the University of the Philippines (UP) urged the administration to streamline processes to request funding. 

In its biannual congress at UP Cebu (UPC) last Monday, Jan. 30, member publications of the UP Solidaridad passed a resolution calling to ease bureaucratic processes as they reported difficulties in accessing their budget.

Kalasag, Outcrop, Pagbutlak, Sinag and Tug-ani said paperwork kept them from using their funds. The said publications are the student publications of UP Diliman (UPD) College of Arts and Letters, UP Baguio, UP Visayas (UPV), UPD College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, and UPC, respectively.

Apart from this, UPV School of Management’s The Accounts reported that their budget of P400,000 now stood at P140,000 despite neither publishing articles nor sending delegates to conventions of the General Assembly of Student Councils. They added that they “did not know where the changes came from.”

Tinig ng Plaridel and Medikritiko from the UP College of Mass Communication and UP Manila School of Health Sciences, respectively, said they continued struggling without funding from their college and relying mostly on solicitations and donations from alumni.

The resolution read, “The insufficiency and inaccessibility of publication funds drastically affects regular press work, preventing publications from printing their issues, purchasing necessary equipment and participating in pertinent events.”

The measure also campaigns for the passage of the Campus Press Freedom Bill, which would mandate the collection of student fees for campus publications’ budget.

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The resolution came as UP Solidaridad member publications reported sustained attacks on their student journalists in the past semester.

Last Jan. 21, a division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines sent a letter for an information education campaign to the barangay of Outcrop’s multimedia editor. The publication claimed that the military aimed to “surveil” the student journalist due to her “affiliation with progressive organizations.”

Following their coverage of protests commemorating Communist Party of the Philippines founder Joma Sison last December, Sinag was red-tagged by Lorraine Badoy and Mario Jose Chico, respectively an ex-spokesperson and a deputy director for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.

The CSSP publication added that Facebook notified them that their page was at risk of being unpublished by the platform.

Instances of red-tagging online were also experienced by Kalasag and UP Tacloban’s Vista. Additionally, Tug-ani and UP Mindanao’s Himati reported safety concerns over heavy police presence during their coverage of mobilizations.

In efforts to counter these attacks on the campus press, UP Solidaridad also adopted a resolution creating a database that collates all harassment cases against staffers and editors of member publications.

“Proper documentation is essential in fighting back against state attacks and media repression,” the resolution read.

Apart from being a repository, the database will be used to assess the state of campus publications across the country and to determine appropriate steps forward.

Another resolution urged the decriminalization of libel, denouncement of red-tagging, and the freeing of Tacloban journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio, who was arrested in February 2020 on charges of illegal firearms possession.

Other resolutions passed by UP Solidaridad called to review and revise the constitution and by-laws of member publications, investigate the condition of Filipino workers, and campaign against the censorship of regional alternative media.