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PRESS RELEASE: Uphold truth! Defend press freedom!

Student publications, writers and media organizations of the University stand together to condemn attacks on press freedom.

Photo by Alecsandra Go/TomasinoWeb.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a joint statement of student publications, writers and media organizations of the University.

We, student publications, writers and media organizations of the University of Santo Tomas, strongly manifest our unity with other media organizations in condemning the Duterte administration’s efforts to stifle press freedom in the country.

While freedom of speech, expression, and the press is protected by our Constitution, it is alarming that President Rodrigo Duterte himself—who has repeatedly shown contempt for human rights, rule of law, and checks and balances—is now going after the free press to silence and intimidate critics of his administration.

The revocation of Rappler’s certificate of registration by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the banning of their reporter from Malacañang is the latest and most blatant attack on press freedom—and it seems that these would not be the last.

Aside from Rappler, President Duterte also lambasted and threatened to order the closure of ABS-CBN and the Philippine Daily Inquirer during his Second State of the Nation Address for supposed biased reportage. The license renewal of at least 54 radio stations operated by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, a staunch critic of the administration, is being blocked in the House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, President Duterte’s support for pro-administration bloggers by their appointment to key government positions is a blatant ploy to allow them to manipulate public opinion and suppress dissent by spreading disinformation, attacking journalists online, and discrediting the media.

Despite the formation of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, the culture of impunity against journalists in the country still continues. It is perpetuated by none other than President Duterte himself, who has verbally assaulted journalists, catcalled female reporters and claimed corrupt journalists deserved to be killed.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders declared the Philippines the “deadliest country” in Asia for journalists after recording four journalist killings in 2017. Local media groups such as the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism recorded the killings of six journalists in the first 16 months of the Duterte administration, along with eight attempted murders and death threats, and six major cases of threats from local officials and pro-administration bloggers.

Even the campus press is not safe from the state’s attacks: The College Editors Guild of the Philippines denounced last October the military and police surveillance, harassment, intimidation, and red-tagging of several member publications in Bicol, and several other campus journalists and activists.

Pro-administration blogger and Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson has publicly attacked the editors of Ateneo de Manila University’s Matanglawin for lampooning her in their satirical issue by posting their personal details on her Facebook page, making them vulnerable to online harassment.

IN THESE CRUCIAL TIMES WHEN OUR FREEDOMS ARE BEING ATTACKED AND THREATENED, WE, CAMPUS JOURNALISTS, WRITERS, AND MEDIA PRACTITIONERS, MUST STAND AND FIGHT TO DEFEND OUR RIGHTS.

We loudly decry President Duterte’s attacks on the press and the administration’s attempts to discredit the media with its active support in spreading online disinformation.

We strongly demand an end to the culture of impunity and violence against journalists and media workers in the country, and we will continue to seek justice for journalists killed in the line of duty.

We vehemently resist efforts to close down media outlets and organizations, which are nothing but blatant acts to stifle press freedom and silence dissent in the country.

To this end, we will continue to uphold the freedom of the press, freedom of expression, and the democratic rights of students, the youth, and the Filipino people in the face of an increasingly authoritarian regime.

We will continue to serve the people and stand for freedom, democracy, and most importantly, veritas: the truth.


INITIAL LIST OF SIGNATORIES

Amierielle Anne Bulan
Editor-in-Chief
The Varsitarian

Philip Jamilla
Executive Editor
TomasinoWeb

Noelle Aetana Malagkit
Chief Communications Officer
TOMCAT

Joshua Carl Palomera
President
Thomasian Writers Guild

Mikkah Factor
Editor-in-Chief
The Flame

Mary Joy Abalos
Editor-in-Chief
La Stampa Tomasino

Ristel Mae Tagudando
Editor-in-Chief
The Purple Gazette

Patricia Lee Yanga
President
UST Journalism Society

Neal Andreu Tayco
President
UST Literary Society

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Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE: Leave no student behind! Academic ease now!

The Thomasian free press have seen and heard the call of the student body – whether unaffected or not – to leave no one behind. We call upon the administration to do the same. 

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(Photo by Vince Imperio/TomasinoWeb)

Four typhoons – Rolly, Quinta, Siony, and Ulysses – have ravaged the Philippines in less than a month during the unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic. The devastation has incited mass efforts and a collective demand for accountability from the national government as well as calls for humane responses to the events that have led to the displacement of thousands of Filipinos. 

The University of Santo Tomas has chosen to respond to these by opting to resume classes on Monday, November 16, 2020, as stipulated by Memorandum No. 21 which was released by the Office of the Vice Rector for Academic Affairs and the Office of the Secretary-General among the colleges. 

The said memorandum indicates that synchronous and asynchronous classes are to resume tomorrow, that they shall be recorded, that no attendance shall be checked, that passing of assessments and submissions may begin on November 20, and that preliminary examinations for General Education courses shall be moved accordingly for the sake of maintaining the delivery of quality education despite the said devastating recent events.   

However, the undersigned strongly disavow this lukewarm decision made by an institution that claims to adhere to the Thomasian value of compassion. This call for action is based on the premises that:

  • Several lives have been lost and many remain missing;
  • Students lack adequate resources for online classes such as electricity, internet connection, review materials, etc. due to destruction of property;
  • Families have lost access to basic needs, such as proper shelter, clothing, water, and food;
  • Deterioration of students’ mental health has become rampant due to academic workload, situational factors, and personal issues and;
  • Filipinos suffer from the lack of proper response and disaster plan from authorities.

As such, to expect the student body to act as if disasters can be forgotten within a weekend is an irresponsible and tone-deaf response that is indicative of an administration that is privileged and far removed from the turmoil experienced on ground.

As members of the free press, the following student publications, acting as representatives of the students of the University of Santo Tomas, call for the following actions from the administration:

  1. Implementation of an Academic Break, including the postponement of synchronous and asynchronous classes, until all Thomasians have re-established the necessary resources to participate in academic works;
  2. Reinstatement of the In-Progress System (INP) to give students ample time to finish requirements and assessments that cannot bemet due to the current situation, including extension or postponement of deadlines and;
  3. Creation of an updated and inclusive tracker of affected students, faculty, and staff to establish proper communication and to extend assistance to those who are in need through various Thomasian organizations.

What we deserve is an administration adhering to its three core values of competence, compassion, and commitment, and not a group of individuals too privileged to see the realities beyond their ivory towers. With the circumstances at hand, now is not the time to force the student body to comply with their academics.

If anything, this decision can and will only prove to be counterproductive to the goal of maintaining “quality education.” In fact, it will be the last thing to be achieved if the administration fails to see this. What the Thomasian community needs now is time: to grieve for the families, livelihoods, and properties that we’ve lost, to acknowledge the uncertainties of our situation, to move forward with what’s left, and to fight for a more reasonable approach from the government.  

The Thomasian free press have seen and heard the call of the student body – whether unaffected or not – to leave no one behind. We call upon the administration to do the same. 

 

BRIN RAIZULLI ISAAC
President & Executive Editor
TomasinoWeb

JOSE RAFAEL BALLECER
Executive Vice President & Managing Editor
TomasinoWeb

JEANNY NOVA PUNAY
Editor-in-Chief
College of Science Journal

LYN MARIELLE ABESAMIS
Associate Editor
College of Science Journal

JUSTIN CHRISTOPHER C. RAMOS
Editor-in-Chief
Commerce Journal

ARRIANE LOUISE M. GULAPA
Managing Editor
Commerce Journal

JEFSON ROMEO B. FELIX
Editor-in-Chief
Purple Gazette

EMMANUEL VENER R. MARCADEJAS
Associate Editor
Purple Gazette

PEACH MANOS
Associate Editor
The Flame

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Government officials invited to react on the Youth Declaration for Climate Justice ahead 25 September, ‘Global Day of Climate Action’

Environmental and climate organizations come together to hold the Para Sa Klimabukasan Global Day of Climate Action, in solidarity with youth-led movements around the globe inspired by youth climate activist Greta Thunberg.

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METRO MANILA, 19 September 2020 – Environmental and climate organizations come together to hold the Para Sa Klimabukasan Global Day of Climate Action, in solidarity with youth-led movements around the globe inspired by youth climate activist Greta Thunberg. They carry the Youth Declaration for Climate Justice, a unified call of Filipino youth for the commitment of the government and corporations to implement bold climate actions and uphold climate justice.

“We are inviting government officials to react to the Youth Declaration on 23 September,” Youth Strike 4 Climate Philippines Education and Research Committee Head, Sophia Caralde, said, “We want them to work on this Declaration and recognize the role of the youth in addressing the climate crisis. The Filipino youth is more than ready to work with the government to address the climate crisis and achieve climate justice.”

The Press Conference will be held on 23 September 10:00AM to 12:00NN. Confirmed reactors include Mr. John Colin E. Yokingko from CHR, Mr. Albert A. Magalang from DENR-EMB, Dr. Dexter Galban from POPCOM, and Atty. Antonio La Viña, Professor of Law, Politics and Governance, and Philosophy.

Afterwards, they will hold the culminating forum on 25 September 2020 from 4:00PM to 6:00PM to collate the responses of youth leaders as they discuss in a panel discussion the inclusion in the Youth Declaration for Climate Justice. Atty. Antonio Oposa Jr, internationally renowned and pioneering environmental advocate and creative litigator, will share his action points and policy recommendations.

#ParaSaKlimabukasan

#FightClimateInjustice

#GlobalDayOfClimateAction

#AsiaForClimate

Media partners include: Inquirer.Net, InqPOP!, Squeeze, My Pope Philippines, ASTIG.PH, TechKuya, Association of Young Environmental Journalists, Commoner, Realtalk Philippines, TomasinoWeb.org, The LaSallian, PUP DZMC Young Communicators’ Guild, Magnum Opus, The Blueprint Publication, and Heraldo Filipino.

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Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE: Renew ABS-CBN franchise, Defend Press Freedom

As members of the Thomasian community, guided by the virtues of veritas in caritate, we, the student publications and media organizations of the University of Santo Tomas, strongly condemn the recent attacks of the Duterte administration on the media especially on ABS-CBN.

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Deojon Elarco/TomasinoWeb

FEBRUARY 2020

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a joint statement of student publications and media organizations of the University of Santo Tomas. 

Today, we are witnessing another brazen attack against the press.

As members of the Thomasian community, guided by the virtues of veritas in caritate, we, the student publications and media organizations of the University of Santo Tomas, strongly condemn the recent attacks of the Duterte administration on the media especially on ABS-CBN.

Despite the protection of freedom of expression in  the 1987 Constitution, President Duterte and his lapdogs continue to find themselves stuck in an endless loop of scrutinizing various media institutions. 

From the harassment of campus publications up to threats of revocation against the mainstream media, it is clear that the Duterte administration is not an ally of the press.

In an attempt to hasten the franchise revocation of broadcast network ABS-CBN, Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto petition against broadcast network ABS-CBN, last February 10, 2020. Tagged by Calida as a “very urgent omnibus motion”, the petition was filed in the Supreme Court due to the network giant’s “unlawful exercise of legislative franchises.”

The actions of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the tolerance of the Duterte administration towards this matter is a grave disrespect to press freedom. The maneuver of the OSG sets a dangerous precedence in the future, where the legalese is bent to further suppress the media. 

Censorship has always been the weapon of dictators. In fact, the actions and policies of the current administration strongly live by the Marcosian playbook—where the truth has no place in the society. 47 years ago, the ABS-CBN found itself in the same situation when its channel 2 was shut down after it was seized by the military a day after the declaration of Martial Law. For 13 years, Filipinos lived in the darkness and silence of Martial Law. Any form of criticism was suppressed. The media became a propaganda tool of the government. Behind the “discipline” and “order” are the shadows of cruelty not just on the media but also on the Filipino society. If the Duterte administration can easily threaten network giants, the harm it can conflict to small-scale publications, to human rights defenders, to common Filipinos, is insurmountable.

The crackdown on ABS-CBN not only affects the operations of media in the country but also displaces tens of thousands of employees. Last 2017, Sandy Prieto of the Philippine Daily Inquirer also found herself in the same situation into giving up her family’s 25-year control of Inquirer after pressures from Duterte’s administration, and was ultimately sold to Ramon S. Ang, a business tycoon and close friend of Duterte. Last 2019, Rappler CEO Maria Ressa was arrested for the alleged violation of the Anti-Dummy Law and “cyber libel” charges in 2012. A few weeks ago, a community journalist along with four human rights workers were arrested for alleged possession of firearms and explosives. These recent attacks are reminiscent of the Marcos regime; that era itself marks the rape of the Philippine press.

Our duties and responsibilities as media practitioners are tantamount to our role as the Fourth Estate, which refers to our capability to evaluate and check the government’s performance. Without critical engagement and discourse, the state is free to tamper with our rights without hesitation. Refusing to fight for our rights as campus press further amplifies the systemic aggression that plagues the newsroom we belong to. 

Once more, we vehemently condemn President Duterte’s attempts in silencing the press and the administration’s reliance on misinformation to advance its own version of truth.

Amidst the ongoing firestorm that threatens freedom of the press, let us be reminded that we must uphold the truth to protect the sanctity of the freedom of speech and of expression.

 

RABIN P. BOTE

President, TomasinoWeb

 

JOHN AARON C. PANGILINAN

Executive Editor, TomasinoWeb

 

JEFSON ROMEO B. FELIX

EIC, Purple Gazette

 

JAMES EDVER O. MERCADO

President/Director, UST Tiger S.H.O.O.T.

 

CLARENCE PRYCE O. ALMAZAN

President, Performing Arts Guild

 

LOUISE JULIE W. PABICO

Editor-in-Chief, UST College of Science Journal 

 

BERNICE KYRENE P. GUTIERREZ

Editor-in-Chief, Accountancy Journal

 

PEACH ARIANNA P. MANOS

Associate Editor, The Flame

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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