Student journalists in the Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST) were banned from their own school. They discovered this the hard way when they tried to enter the school the day after they held a protest action against the administration’s oppressive decisions and were barred entry.
BY TRINA FEDERIS
Vol. VII, No. 30, September 2-8, 2007
Student journalists in the Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST) were banned from their own school. They discovered this the hard way when they tried to enter the school the day after they held a protest action against the administration’s oppressive decisions, and were barred entry.
“When I tried to enter the premises, a guard stopped me, saying I cannot enter the school,” Eugene Villanueva, senior staff writer of the EARIST Technozette, said.
EARIST Technozette staff members gathered near the school gym, in front of the school building on Wednesday morning. They were protesting the administration’s refusal to release the publication’s fund, because of the EARIST Technozette’s alleged failure to comply with the requirements needed before the fund is to be released.
“Which is ridiculous,” counters Morris Orbe, the EARIST Technozette’s editor-in-chief. “We have already submitted the report for last year. We even have a certification that we have indeed submitted it already. However, they keep on making excuses. We were made to go back and forth between the President’s office and the Vice-President for Academic Affairs’ office, chasing the elusive signature for the fund request.”
Sympathizers banned as well
Even sympathetic groups, such as UGATLahi, Musicians for Peace, Dulaang Katig, and Union of Progressive Students, were prohibited from entering the school grounds, Januar Golod, chairman of Dulaang Katig, a theatre group, affirmed.
“I tried to enter the school from the two gates (main and extension), but I was prohibited from doing so. The guard told me I cannot go in. He had a list beside him. When I looked at it, I did not have my name on it. I told him this, but the guard insisted that I cannot go in. He even added my name to the list.” relates Golod.
‘They even told us to bring our parents with us, if we want to enter the school premises,” Golod said incredulously.
“Even students who were not there in the mobilization last Wednesday were barred entry, just because they are members of the organizations sympathetic to the EARIST Technozette’s plight,” Golod relates.
Unreleased publication funds
The EARIST Technozette has been suffering from actions orchestrated against them by the administration. “They never admitted to withholding our funds, but they acted as if they were not willing to give it to us. The fund was supposed to be given a month after the last day of enrolment, but we have yet to receive a single cent,” Orbe relates.
“It’s like the Collegian all over again,” Orbe recalls, referring to the predicament of the official student publication of the University of the Philippines (UP), the Philippine Collegian last year, when the administration refused to release the publication fund to the Collegian.
The Collegian is now able to publish as before.
Jose Cosido, national president of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), stated that withholding the funds of a student publication is a tried-and-tested tactic used by oppressive school administrators.
“These administrators think that they can cow these students into submission. What they don’t realize is that this kind of underhanded approach gives the students more reason to oppose them. Preventing the publication of the student paper encroaches upon the right of the people to know,” Cosido elucidates.
Negotiation with a premise
According to Orbe, Mr. Lito Mijares, a former Sudent Affairs officer, contacted him the day after the protest action. Mijares told him that the president, Dr. Eduardo Cailio, wanted to meet with the members of the EARIST Technozette in the president’s office. However, they had to meet a requirement first: they had to bring their parents along with them.
“They asked us to bring our parents as ‘co-educators.’ This is so they can ‘enlighten us,’ presumably because we headed a protest action against the administration. Well, if they want us to talk, they should take back this premise. Otherwise, we will not go,” maintains Orbe.
“Why should they bring their parents?” Cosido said. “They are of legal age. Instead, they should have asked them to be accompanied by a lawyer, or at the very least, a paralegal staff.”
All these precautionary measures seem to have stemmed from the administration’s misconception that a death threat was made to the president, Dr. Cailio, according to Orbe.
“They are under the impression that we are out to kill Dr. Cailio, instead of just removing him from his current position. In fact, they insist that some of our placards contained such messages, and that they have the photos to prove it. It’s obviously a far-fetched claim, as the only calls we have painted on our placards were, ‘No to tuition and other fee increase!’, ‘Support EARIST Technozette!’ and ‘Release the EARIST Technozette’s fund!’” Orbe contends.
There were also reports that what the administration took for a death threat was what a speaker during the mobilization last Wednesday said. According to Orbe, what the speaker said in verbatim was, “Bilang na ang araw ng pananatili mo rito sa EARIST, President Cailio!” (Your days of stay in EARIST are numbered, President Cailio!).
“I don’t know how they can come up with this. That statement was taken way out of context. Anyone can understand that we only want him out of EARIST. We have no intention to commit murder,” Orbe articulates.
The EARIST Technozette, after a dialogue with the administration last Friday, will now be able to access their fund.
“We will now be able to use our funds. Our members, as well as the members of the other organizations who joined the protest action, are no longer banned,” Orbe articulates.
“Clearly, this incident teaches us that if we stick to our guns, if we refuse to surrender to unjust practices, we will be able to attain our goals. We have to uphold our principles to be able to uphold press freedom,” Cosido concludes. (Bulatlat.com)