Campus journalists in Southern Tagalog support netizens’ protest at SC

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GAGGING the press and silencing the people’s freedom of expression is the first step in actually killing the journalist. But isn’t it that, literally, media men in line of their duty are already being killed during the past and present administrations?”

This is the question posed by Michael Alegre, secretary general of CEGP Southern Tagalog Chapter at the start of the oral arguments in the Supreme Court. On behalf of the student publications of the region, he expressed support to the various groups of youth, media practitioners and netizens protesting in front of the Supreme Court today.

Alegre said the Aquino administration’s continued patronage of the law is distressful since the Filipino people are close witnesses to political killings and the culture of impunity that permitted such gruesome acts as the Maguindanao Massacre in 2009 and the gunning of Dr. Gerry Ortega of Palawan, whom family and friends will commemorate two years of injustice this January 24.

The campaign in Southern Tagalog kicked-off with student journalists changing their profile pictures on their Facebook and Twitter accounts bearing creative calls such as “Criminalize this Noynoy!” and “Ang mag-Tweet ay makatarungan!”.

They also conducted sticker-bombings of a blue bird, symbol used in Twitter, caged and tied with a yellow. The stickers were posted on different corners of the campuses, Wi-Fi zones as well as jeepneys and other areas with large concentration of students.

Student journalists also hopped Internet Cafés and requested changing desktop backgrounds with posters bearing calls against government censorship and state repression. This week, CEGP Southern Tagalog led the formation of Task Force Junk Cybercrime Law in the region.

Campus journalists from different universities in Southern Tagalog slammed the Aquino administration for trampling on the freedom of expression of netizens, particularly journalists and social media critics, and called for the unity among the youth and students in the region to junk RA 10175 or otherwise known as the “Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.”

While a 120-day Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) has been issued last October, no considerable move has been made to recognize the netizens demands. The Law has been tagged as an “E-Martial Law” since with its blatant disregard for the sacrifices of martyrs in the Martial Law era.

Participating universities in the campaign include the following student publications: The Spark and The Wisdom of Southern Luzon State University -Lucban, The Luzonian of Manuel S. Enverga University Foundation in Lucena, The Lizette of Laguna College of Business and the Arts in Calamba, UPLB Perspective of University of the Philippines-Los Baños, UPHL Gazette of the University of Perpetual Help System – Biñan, The Gazette of Cavite State University-Indang, Heraldo Filipino of De La Salle University-Dasmariñas, The Legacy of University of Rizal System in Morong, Rizal, The Searcher of Polytechnic University of the Philippines-Sto. Tomas, The Harrow of Romblon State University – Odiongan and The Pioneer of Palawan State University – Main.

Alegre also noted that the Cybercrime Prevention Act further justifies the rampant campus press freedom violations in the region, which include the forced closure of The Epitome of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Lopez, Quezon due to the filing of rebellion case against its staff in 2008, the attempt to file a libel case against The Harrow of Romblon State University last October, the red-tagging of progressive youth groups in Palawan State University through a forum conducted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines last November and the continued administration intervention in the editorial board autonomy of the UPHL Gazette of the University of Perpetual Help System in Biñan, Laguna.

“The government is clearly deceiving us and killing our right to convey information about the real situation that is happening in our country through online dissemination because they think it is a threat for them especially now that election is drawing nearer. They are busy cleaning their names for the campaign,” Alegre commented.

He added that the alternative press has a crucial role in exposing different people’s issues in the region such as the corruption of more than Php70 billion worth of Coco Levy funds supposedly for coconut farmers of Quezon province and the union-busting of workers in Phil Steel factory in Cabuyao, Laguna among other issues.

Meanwhile, student journalists vowed to intensify their campaign and struggle to unite the youth and students in exposing the “true character of the Aquino administration as undemocratic and unresponsive to the people’s interests”.

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