Oct. 24, 2014, 11:09 a.m. – SCHOOL paper editors and
writers on Wednesday called for changes to the Campus Journalism Act of 1991 to
ensure that freedom of the press is upheld on campus.

The 23-year-old Campus Journalism Act has been used to
suppress, instead of protect, the rights of campus journalists, College Editors
Guild of the Philippines President Marc Lino Abila said before the House
Committee on Higher and Technical Education (CHTE) headed by Pasig Rep. Roman
Romulo last Oct. 22.

“The Campus Journalism Act of 1991, which [should be
protecting] press freedom at the campus level, has serious flaws that
jeopardize  campus press freedom,” Abila
said.

Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon earlier filed House
Bill (HB) 1493 or “An Act Providing for the Development and Promotion of
Campus Journalism
,” which imposes a fine of P200,000 or five-year
imprisonment on those who interfere in or restrain the work campus journalists.

But A Teacher party-list Rep. Mariano Piamonte, Jr.
questioned  what he described as
“contentious provisions” of the bill, like sections 6 and 15.

Section 6 states that student publications are free “from
any form of administrative intervention with regard to the handling of its
funds, the content of the articles the editorial board chooses to publish, the
selection of its publication staff and members of the editorial board.” Section
15 states that the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd), the Technical
Education and Skills Development Authority, and the Department of Education can
impose administrative sanctions for campus press freedom violations.

Piamonte said there should be a balance between the autonomy
of the student publication and the rules of the school administration.

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“[When] students enroll in the [institution], they submit
themselves to [its] rules and regulations. [The fee] forms part of the
institutional fund. We cannot claim that once it is collected by the school it
belongs to the student. It does not,” he said. “The rights of students inside
the campus [are] limited.”

Although there were no disagreements on the importance of
upholding campus press freedom, the relationship between school administrators
and campus journalists still needed to be clarified, Romulo told the
Varsitarian.

“Ang naging issue na lamang [ay ‘yung] autonomy na hinihingi
sa pag-audit ng funds na kinokolekta ng school [at] ibinibigay sa publication,”
he said.

Also present in the hearing were editors of student
publications from several colleges and universities such as Palawan State
University, Quirino State University, and Colegio de San Juan de Letran-Bataan;
University of the East President Esther Garcia; and CHEd Commissioner Alex
Brillantes. 

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