Systematic-approach resolutions adopted in 38th UP Solidaridad Congress

Publications intend to establish a security mechanism for student journalists and writers against alternative media censorship in their reportage.

Words by Robert Gallardo

Member publications of UP Solidaridad, the alliance of student publications and writers’ organizations of the UP System, adopted six resolutions concerning issues in the university, community, and the nation at the 38th UP Solidaridad Congress last January 30 to February 1.

The biannual congress of UP Solidaridad is congruent to the General Assembly of Student Councils (GASC), where student publications of the UP System convene to deliver unit reports and build resolutions that tackle and provide possible solutions to the issues faced by student journalists.

University woes and worries

In relation to publication mechanisms, The Manila Collegian (UP Manila) and Sinag (UP Diliman College of Social Sciences and Philosophy) authored a resolution in establishing a system to record press freedom violations and database.

The publications shared the troll and state agent attacks that they received by mass reporting their stories. The Manila Collegian also shared that they received an “unpublished” warning from Facebook Meta for its reportage on the commemoration of Jose Maria “Joma” Sison’s death.

Authors discussed the persisting attacks of the state on press freedom and recent tirade against NTF-ELCAC.

Last January 21, Outcrop (UP Baguio)’s Kessha Carreon received threats of surveillance from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) 5th Infantry Division of Baguio City due to her work in progressive organizations.

The authors proposed to establish a database where member publications can access and document any press freedom-related attacks.

Meanwhile, a resolution authored by Philippine Collegian and UPLB Perspective aimed at inscribing review of the constitution of student publications of the UP System.

UPLB Perspective noted the incurrence of administration intervention in the publication’s editorial examination insisting that there was “no significant difference” in the scores of the examinees, naming the second-placer as Editor-in-Chief (EIC).

The authors also cited difficulties in establishing, recognizing, and reviving student publications. This is evident in UPLB as two student college publications of the College of Development Communication (CDC) and College of Agriculture and Food Science (CAFS) were recently formed and revived.

To remedy autonomy issues faced by the student publications, the authors urged member publications to pass the resolution and amend the constitution and by-laws which they pronounced should be grounded on the principles of “equality, fairness, and democracy.”

Neophyte member publication, Tanglaw, the official student publication of UP Los Baños CDC, and Outcrop authored a resolution focusing on the issue of student publication fees and funding.

As reported by Outcrop, the publication’s funding has declined since 2018 as the Free Tuition Law was passed and the source of funding is mainly from the students who are not covered by free tuition. Since then, a measly Php 10,000 is collected per semester.

Outcrop EIC Jethro Bryan Andrada explained that despite having dialogues with the UP Baguio administration, the process of funneling budget for the student publication is left unclear to them. 

“Free tertiary education in SUCs [State Universities and Colleges] and HEIs [Higher Education Institutions] should not come at the expense of funding of student institutions and publications,” Andrada expressed.

Tanglaw also faces issues in financial and bureaucratic structures and mechanisms as the publication was only established in 2022. 

Community and national issues

In another resolution, student publications Tug-ani (UP Cebu) and Himati (UP Mindanao) outlined issues on reportage in regional settings.

The authors noted on red-tagging of journalists and limiting press coverage as headed by state forces. Tug-ani also shared the red-tagging of EIC Clive Rabuya on social media.

The publications moved to pass the resolution in hopes to establish security mechanisms to protect its member publications in both online and on-ground reportage and amplify the fight against alternative media censorship.

UPLB Perspective authored a resolution focusing on investigating and surfacing of workers and labor situations in the country through reportage.

Authors discussed prevalence of state attacks against workers and union leaders in Southern Tagalog. They noted on the illegal arrest of Steve Mendoza and the killing of Dandy Miguel which are labor leaders of Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (PAMANTIK-KMU).

(RELATED STORIES: 2 lider-unyon sa Laguna, inaresto sa magkaparehong araw; Nexperia union officers harassed by AFP-PNP and NTF-ELCAC, forced to disaffiliate from labor center; Lider manggagawa Dandy Miguel, patay matapos pagbabarilin sa Calamba, 9 patay, 6 arrestado matapos ang ‘Bloody Sunday’ sa Timog Katagalugan)

Rooted in human rights and social justice, UPLB Perspective authored the resolution and move to involve UP Solidaridad in writing workers and labor-related stories.

Lastly, a resolution to amplify the call to release detained community journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio was authored by publications UP Vista (UP Visayas Tacloban College), Kalasag (UP Diliman College of Arts and Letters), and Ang Tagamasid (UP Manila College of Arts and Sciences).

Cumpio is an Altermidya journalist and a former member of UP Vista who was illegally arrested in 2020 under trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives, along with other activists who are collectively known as Tacloban 5.

With under-reportage of such cases, the authors hope to amplify the campaign to release Cumpio and other political prisoners, as well as support initiatives in supporting legislation of press freedom-related bills such as the Campus Press Freedom Bill authored by Kabataan Partylist.

(RELATED STORY: Where Terror Lies)

According to UP Solidaridad National Chairperson Marianne de Jesus, the resolutions will serve as a guide in forwarding collective campaigns and operations of member publications. “These resolutions would help further amplify the fight for press freedom through having a collective and unified call,” de Jesus shared. [P]

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