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Legarda supports student journalists, upholds campus press freedom

April 23, 2010

NP-NPC-LDP VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA YESTERDAY JOINED THE COLLEGE EDITORS GUILD OF THE PHILIPPINES (CEGP) IN UPHOLDING CAMPUS PRESS FREEDOM, AND SUPPORTS AMENDING THE CAMPUS JOURNALISM ACT OF 1991 TO MAKE IT MORE RESPONSIVE AND EFFECTIVE IN PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF CAMPUS JOURNALISTS.
Loren said that the Campus Journalism Act has helped foster campus press journalism and train young journalists. However, it has also been criticized for not having enough teeth to protect the autonomy of campus journalists and press freedom in schools.
According to Loren, “The provision regarding the collection of subscription fees needs sharpening. Right now, the law does not make it mandatory for the school administration to collect subscription fees. This has been used to freeze the budget of student publications, and effectively curtails press operations.”
“For instance, PUP’s (The Polytechnic University of the Philippines) The Catalyst had to personally collect publication fees, after the administration refused to collect it. The students claim that this refusal started when their newspaper exposed a proposed increase in tuition, which led to protests and forced the retraction of the proposed fee increase,” Loren said.
The CEGP warns of the increasing number of campus press freedom violations, which reached a total of 279 cases in 2008, more than twice the cases recorded in 2006 and 2007.
“We have to train our young, aspiring journalists to be responsible and independent. They will be the next Ces Drilon, Jessica Soho, Arnold Clavio and many other media practitioners who report facts as they see it, and risk life and limb to get to the bottom of a story. But how can we expect responsible journalism from our students if they fear the backlash of school administrations that may get offended from what they publish?,” said Loren, who had a successful career as a broadcast journalist before she entered politics.
Students do not shed off their constitutional rights once they enter school gates, especially their right to freedom of expression. We need to help them understand the beauty of this right, of being able to express your views and opinions without fear of retribution. At the same time we’ve got to make them appreciate that with this right comes the responsibility of being fair and unbiased in reporting news, said Loren.