CJA used to silence UST’s Hiraya student paper

Reading this special report published by the venerable Varsitarian of the University of Santo Tomas brought me back to the years I was with the College Editors Guild of the Philippines.

In this case of the Hiraya, official student publication of UST’s college of fine arts, the college dean uses the Campus Journalism Act or Republic Act 7079 to restrict funding intended for the paper, acting as if he’s more popish than the Pope. The dean says restricting the funds for the past two years is good for the students because corruption or non-liquidation of funds are being prevented.

I don’t know who advised the dean about his statements, but Hiraya staff and editors should sue him for violating the CJA and campus press freedom. If he had complaints about non-liquidation of expenses by previous staffwriters, he should have barred them from graduating or from enrolling through non-signing of their clearances. But to use that purported episode to deny new staffers and editors access to student publication funds is a crime because it denies students their own publication. The dean should understand that those funds do not belong to the university or to the college. It belongs to students.

The CEGP has long advocated the repeal of the CJA because it is most often used in the way this UST dean has used it against Hiraya. Administrators are silent on portions that champion press freedom on campus, and only use to the hilt corrosive sections such as those on student publication funds to kill the student press.

I hope the current CEGP leadership knows about this, and the Guilders who are now in Congress do something about the (mis-)use of the CJA by school administrators who seem to have no interest in encouraging responsible campus journalism and press freedom.

Thanks to Mideo Cruz for the heads up.

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