De Lima seeks greater protection for campus journalists

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a measure which seeks to protect campus journalists against harassment and intimidation for the critical stances on local and national issues and policies they espouse in their respective school publications.

De Lima filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1868 which seeks to repeal Republic Act No. 7079, also known as the “Campus Journalism Act,” for its serious flaws and deficiencies in promoting the growth and development of campus journalism across the country.

“The campus press is expected to uphold the interest of the students and the Filipino people, such as the incessant and unabated tuition and other fee increases, repressive student policies, human rights violations, disregard for national sovereignty, corruption in government, and various assaults to the rights of the people,” she said.

“It is therefore unsurprising to find student journalists in conflict with institutions who use their authority to quell free speech and expression. Throughout history, many student editors and writers have been persecuted,” she added.

De Lima noted that some student journalists experience harassment and intimidation from their own schools, especially when they oppose or are critical of school programs and policies at the expenses of the best interest of the studentry.

“Despite constitutionally-guaranteed rights to free speech and expression, it is simply preposterous and disheartening that campus press freedom violations exist,” she said.

The Senator from Bicol took issue on the recent move by San Beda University to block the release of 1,700 copies of “The Bedan Roar,” the official student publication of the University’s Senior High School, for criticizing Duterte’s gruesome war on drugs.

In her Dispatch from Crame No. 293 released last April 28, De Lima took the cudgels for the editors and staff of “The Bedan Roar” for taking a critical stance on Duterte administration’s all-out war on drugs and the proliferation of fake news.

“The students of ‘The Bedan Roar’ did what any true Bedan would do. Nay, what a true Filipino patriot would do. They called out the threat of a tyrant. They let him know they are here and that they will not stand for his abuses,” she said in her dispatch.

The former justice secretary explained the present law contains serious flaws and deficiencies that curtail the development and growth of campus journalism as well as the promotion and protection of rights and welfare of campus journalists.

Under SB 1868, De Lima proposed to undertake various programs and projects that would empower student journalists, affording them with consistent and reliable source of funds, providing them with in-depth training, and bestowing them the freedom to determine the content of their publication.

“By repealing the present law, and replacing it with a law that genuinely upholds campus press freedom, we can once again reclaim campus journalism as it once were – an unbiased, untainted avenue of self-expression, critical and creative thinking, and a beacon of nationalism and democracy,” she said.

Office of Senator Leila de Lima
Rm. 502 & 16 (New Wing 5/F) GSIS Bldg., Financial Center, Diokno Blvd., Pasay City

Trunk Lines:
(632) 552-6601 to 70 local no. 5750

Direct Lines:
807-8489 / (Rm. 16) 807-8580 /local 8619

[email protected]

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