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Campus journalism enhancement bill filed at House

“Malaki ang role ng mga alternative media na katulad ng campus press. Present ito sa buong bansa at napakamakapangyarihan nito kung magagamit ang kanyang pontensyal doon sa pagtataas ng awareness ng taong bayan tungkol sa mahahalagang isyung panlipunan.”

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Gwen Dungao/TomasinoWeb

Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago led the repeal of the campus journalism law with the filing of Campus Press Freedom Act of the country to uphold genuine campus press freedom.

The Committee on Higher and Technical Education (CHTE) formed a technical working group (TWG) to conduct further studies and consultations on House Bill No. 319 or the Campus Press Freedom Bill which aims to repeal the 28-year-old R.A. 7079 or the Campus Journalism Act (CJA) of 1991.

In her statement during CHTE’s hearing on Monday, Feb. 17, 2020 at the House of Representatives, Elago said the “inherent flaws of the law” resulted in “even more campus press freedom violations that are even more clever and devious in form.”

Elago said that the CJA “legalizes the non-mandatory collection of publication fee, which is considered as the lifeblood” of student publications and “does not make it mandatory for all colleges and universities in the Philippines to establish student publications.”

Elago also noted that the law does not contain a penalty clause for violators, “leaving erring administrators unscathed.”

“School administrators are able to commit offense after offense yet suffer no retribution,” Elago added.

According to Elago, Department of Education, Culture, and Sports (DECS) Order No. 94, Series of 1992’s implementing rules and regulations of CJA “naturally carries the weaknesses of Campus Journalism Act of 1991” as it “cannot lawfully narrow or restrict and expand, broaden, or enlarge the provisions of the law.”

“Kaya ang isinusulong ng Campus Press Freedom Bill ay bigyan ng depenisyon ang technical guidance at tiyakin na talagang ang role ng adviser ay doon lamang sa technical assistance at siguraduhin din na mananagot sa ilalim ng ating batas ang mga lalabag sa campus press freedom,” Elago told TomasinoWeb in an interview.

“Malaki [ang role] ng mga alternative media na katulad ng campus press. Isipin ninyo, present ito sa buong bansa at napakamakapangyarihan nito kung magagamit ang kanyang pontensyal doon sa pagtataas ng awareness ng taong bayan tungkol sa mahahalagang isyung panlipunan,” she said.

College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) National Secretariat Ryan Martinez said that CEGP’s stance on repealing the CJA shows how the law failed to respond and uphold its mandate.

“Bukod pa dito ay nagkaroon pa o umusbong pa ‘yung dami ng campus press freedom violations na masugid na tinatala ng College Editors Guild of the Philippines,” Martinez said.

“Ine-expect natin na mabuo ‘yung technical working group at masali ‘yung CEGP as well as ‘yung college publications sa lungsod man o probinsya na maging consultative na tugunan ‘yung mga pangunahing pangangailangan,” he added.

Martinez also noted the lack of a proper association or group for high school publications that can be utilized to ensure and uphold campus press rights in high school level.

The CJA’s implementation, according to Martinez, seems to be focusing on competitions while the issues troubling students are suppressed. 

“Tila kompetisyon, puwersa lamang para makita kung sino ang mas creative gumawa ng statement, ng mga artikulo. […] Parang ito nga ay pagpapabango ng mga isyu na pang-araw-araw,” Martinez said.

Martinez called for the promotion of critical campus publications which tackles issues directly involving students.

“I-promote natin ‘yung kritikal, aktibo at panibagong campus journalism na tunay na sumasalamin sa issue ng mga students. […] ‘Yung tuition fee, ‘yung mandatory ROTC, ‘yung mga ganoong polisiya na dapat lamanin, dapat malaman ng mga mag-aaral. Tapos maganda kung manggagaling ito sa mga mag-aaral na kasing edad nila,” he said.

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CHR, Church opposes Duterte’s call to revive death penalty

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Church slammed President Duterte’s call to revive death penalty for crimes related to illegal drugs in his fifth and penultimate State of the Nation Address. 

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Photo courtesy of Manila Bulletin

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Church slammed President Duterte’s call to revive death penalty for crimes related to illegal drugs in his fifth and penultimate State of the Nation Address. 

“We believe in the need for a comprehensive approach in addressing drug sale and use, as well as other crimes anchored on restorative justice,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement. 

While the commission agrees to punish crimes, de Guia stressed that it should not result in further violations of human rights. 

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines – Commission on Prison Pastoral Care chairman and Legazpi bishop Joel Baylon and Balanga bishop Ruperto Santos cited that studies proved that capital punishment does not deter crimes. 

“The country will also lose the honor of one of the nations which condemned death penalty if capital punishment is revived,” Sorsogon bishop Arturo Bastes said. 

According to CHR, Duterte’s vow to uphold human rights above all does not coincide with restoring death penalty through lethal injection. 

The Commission also cited that it would breach the international agreement to abolish capital punishment, which the country ratified in 2007. 

“[A]ny moves to reinstate capital punishment in the country conflicts with the tenets of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” de Guia said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday, July 27, said the revival of death penalty for drug-related offenses now has a better chance of being passed in the 18th Congress. Raheema Velasco

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‘Have we really achieved acceptance?’—gender lawyer

Twenty years into the fight for an anti-discrimination legislation, gender equality and human rights lawyers stressed the need for a law that would protect the LGBTQI+ community from sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression (SOGIE) discrimination.

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Screengrab from #PrideHangouts 02: Tuloy ang Laban para sa SOGIE Equality webinar

Twenty years into the fight for an anti-discrimination legislation, gender equality and human rights lawyers stressed the need for a law that would protect the LGBTQI+ community from sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression (SOGIE) discrimination. 

“[J]ust last year, Metro Manila Pride recorded 70,000 attendees. For the most part we thought that it’s a sign of society’s increased support for the community…[b]ut have we really achieved acceptance?” Atty. Claire de Leon said yesterday, June 27. 

The Gretchen Diez incident last year, according to Atty. De Leon, “drastically” shifted the perception of the public toward the LGBTQI+ community and the ongoing fight for the SOGIE Equality bill. 

Misconceptions surfaced after the incident that was followed by a “massive” misinformation campaign against the bill. 

“[N]akakalungkot na marami ding nagbabangga ng mga karapatan natin sa karapatan ng ibang sector. Nakakalungkot na ang ibang tao iniisip nila na this bill would take away rights from heterosexuals or cisgender persons,” Atty. De Leon said. 

However, she stressed that protecting the rights of a marginalized sector does not take away the rights of another.

“[I]f you think that allowing a sector to exercise their rights would take away the rights of others, [then] we must rethink how we see rights [and] how we understand rights,” she said. 

Anti-discrimination ordinances in LGUs

The lack of SOGIE-based national laws pushed LGBTQI+ groups to fight for anti-discrimination ordinances (ADO) within the local government units. 

Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro announced last year, June 29, the passage of the city’s ADO during the Metro Manila Pride March. 

Quezon City on the other hand passed on November 28, 2014 the Gender Fair Ordinance, which was authored by Councilor Mayen Juico and was signed by the then-mayor Herbert Bautista.

Despite having implementing rules and regulations (IRRs) and ordinances, Atty. De Leon said that the process is not entirely implemented and effective. 

“May council [at] may members of the council pero walang office…[N]a-highlight lang nito na hindi natatapos ang lobbying, hindi natatapos ang laban natin sa pagpasa ng ordinance,” De Leon said. 

“Kailangan nating ma-push na meron IRRs at also kailangan nating ma-make sure na nai-implement talaga ang mga ordinances na ‘to,” she added. 

De Leon said that laws and initiatives against anti-discrimination, whether from the national government, LGUs, or private sectors, are necessary to build a more inclusive community.

“Discrimination still occurs and as long as discrimination under the basis of SOGIE persists, we need a law that would give us protection…[p]rotection must be available and accessible to each of us regardless of our SOGIE,” she said. 

SOGIE and Anti-terror bills

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According to Atty. Eljay Bernardo, the “vagueness” of the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Bill can directly affect the LGBTQI+ community as a marginalized sector fighting for SOGIE bill. 

“If we request government, demand government of our rights, it could be construed as terrorism, as destabilization,” Atty. Bernardo said.

The imprisonment of the Pride20, according to him, uncovered how the law can be “twisted” against freedom of speech and assembly. 

Last Friday, June 26, 10 members of LGBTQI+ rights group Bahaghari along with eight from other progressive groups, and two drivers were detained at the Manila Police District. 

They were being charged with disobedience of persons in authority in relation to Republic Act 11332, or the Law on Reporting of Communicable Disease and Batas Pambansa 880, or the Public Assembly Act.

Atty. Bernardo said that the bill could put burden in LGBTQI+ groups, which could be an excuse to put the members of these groups under the surveillance of an anti-terrorism council. 

According to Atty. De Leon, the Anti-Terror bill could “silence all of us,” especially the marginalized sector. 

“[F]or us when activism is the only way of asserting our narratives, this can further render us voiceless. It seems like wala naman siyang direct effect, pero the dangers of it ay nararamdaman na natin ngayon,” she said. 

The webinar #PrideHangouts 02: Tuloy ang Laban para sa SOGIE Equality was hosted by Pat Bringas and was organized by Metro Manila Pride.

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Human rights lawyers pan anti-terror bill’s ‘vague’ definition

Former Department of Social Welfare and Development secretary Prof. Judy Taguiwalo said that the “new normal” today is somewhat similar to the Marcosian “new society.” 

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Screengrab from the Martial Law Noon, Terror Bill Ngayon webinar

Human rights lawyer and former Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares put emphasis on the vague definitions included in the Anti-Terror Bill in an online forum held Saturday, June 6.

These broad definitions, according to Colmenares, could be dangerous, especially that Section 26 requires the formation of an Anti-Terror Council (ATC). 

“[I]t’s an executive body eh at ang mga members niyan ay mga executive officials, mga bataan ni President Duterte. Puwede kang i-designate na terorista,” he said during the Martial Law Noon, Terror Bill Ngayon webinar.

The Section 29 of the bill, as explained by Colmenares, will allow the ATC to “issue a written authorization that allows the police to arrest an alleged suspect” and detain him up to 24 days. 

“Ang term nila sa batas written authorization, but essentially it’s a warrant. It grants the police the power and the authority to arrest you eh…[H]indi naman judiciary ‘yun,” Colmenares said. 

Lawyer Tony La Viña believes these provisions to be “unconstitutional” and could go after legitimate movements and actions and be colored or linked to terrorism.

“‘Yung terrorist, ‘yun ‘yung nagbobomba, nagpapatay ng walang kahulugan. The violence is simply intended for chaos, simply for destruction of the society. The old definition [in Human Security Act] did not respect that distinction. Mas lalo na ngayon [sa Anti-Terror Bill], 

“Nagdagdag ng mga crimes tulad ng inciting to terrorism, support of terrorism, proposal to commit terrorism—lahat ‘yan are all acts that we can actually do on a day to day basis sa pakikibaka…[P]uwedeng kulayin at kulayan ng gobyerno at sabihing ‘terrorism ‘yan’ or ‘inciting to terrorism ‘yan,” La Viña said.

The judicial authority in the Anti-Terror Bill, according to La Viña, is “much less rigorous”  in safeguarding on abuses, rights to privacy in communication, personal security, and unreasonable searches and seizures. 

The bill will also remove the jurisdiction of the Commission on Human Rights to prosecute human rights-related crimes. 

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Colmenares sees the recent protests against the passage of the bill as “reasonable” despite being in the middle of a pandemic, as it shows the disapproval of many Filipinos to the bill. 

“[T]andaan natin na sa kasaysayan natin, ang pinakamalaking tagumpay ng sambayanang Pilipino ay nakamit natin sa gitna ng pinakamasidhing krisis. Kaya tama lang ang ginagawa nating paglaban. Resonable ito [upang] maipanaig ang pagtutol ng sambayanang Pilipino na maisabatas itong new Terror Law,” Colmenares said.

Marcos’ ‘new society’ now the ‘new normal’

Martial law survivors warned the public of the parallelism between the provisions of the Anti-Terror Bill and the abuses during the martial law period in the Philippines. 

Former Department of Social Welfare and Development secretary Prof. Judy Taguiwalo said that the “new normal” today is somewhat similar to the Marcosian “new society.”

“[Sa] new normal makikita natin [ang] mas matinding kawalan ng trabaho, mas matinding kakulangan sa kalusugan, mas hirap sa edukasyon, at milyong mga OFWs ang babalik. So paano ‘yan haharapin?,

“[N]andyan na [ang] undeclared martial law…[N]gayon kahit walang kaso hinuhuli, ikinukulong,” Taguiwalo said. 

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Chairperson Dr. Karol Araullo said that the bill intends “to silence criticism, critical thinking, and opposition.”

“Ayokong tawaging Anti-Terror Bill eh kasi sa totoo lang, it is a bill intended to terrorize the people into submission sa mga patakaran na hindi makabubuti sa kanila,” Araullo said.

To avoid the repetition of the 1972 martial law, Araullo said the limitations in the imposition of martial law was included in the 1987 Constitution.

“[T]hey want to carry out ‘yung ganyang klaseng panunupil on a wider scale which they are unable to do under the current laws…[S]o inimbento nilang itong Anti-Terror Bill,” she said. John Aaron Pangilinan

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