Maanne Ilagan Lopez

On Press Freedom: “Returning the favor”

Lopez, Maanne I.

Editorial and Opinion Writing

Press freedom

March 14, 2008


Returning the favor

Despite the repressive actions of the Arroyo government, one evidently marked during Nov. 29 coup attempt, national media institutions remain to stay in circulation and broadcasting, unlike the number of campus press publications in the Philippines who experience different forms of repression.

Days after the incident in which two bus loads of journalists who covered a failed coup were rounded up by police for several hours, the Arroyo administration ran into number of complaints regarding the abusive action of the police. Aside from the petitions received from involved journalists, the United Nations Correspondents Association also appealed to Pres. Arroyo, adding to the protests launched by student journalists in support of the Philippine media men. Thus, this showed the numerous supporters of Filipino journalists, including the public, implying that the government cannot oppress their freedom.

Out of the 750 campus publications who are members of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, 90 percent experience suppression. Some were closed; some were not able to circulate the school administrators stopped collecting publication fees and some even encounter censorship. The reason why the CEGP continuously is combating for those repressed publications. Often, national media personalities were invited to the organization’s conferences, where they speak to the young journalists on press freedom.

It is evident that the national media networks are aware to the situation of the campus publications yet remain silent on the matter. Issues regarding the mass actions of the CEGP are sometimes published and broadcast, yet the big media personalities and institutions again remain silent on the student journalists’ situations.

Decades ago, when Marcos ordered the closure of broadcast stations and publication, there was a news blackout. Some journalists were imprisoned, killed and others chose to remain silent. These gave birth to alternative press, which include campus publications, such as the Philippine Collegian of the University of the Philippines Marcos’ regime.

These small publications played a key role in the events that led to the ouster of Marcos during Edsa I in 1986. These youth struggled for the anti-dictatorship despite the repressive measures of the Marcos government. When the national media and publications’ press freedom are marked by threat, student publications never hesitate to support them. Now that the alternative presses are the ones being abused, professionals from the industry should lend a hand to these future journalists. They helped you before, now it’s your turn to return the favor.


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