MANILA — The administration of the Lyceum of the Philippines Manila (LPU-Manila) has locked the office of the student publication The Lyceum Independent Sentinel, Oct. 6.
Security guards also barred students who wore black shirts and black ribbons from entering the university premises, following the Black Friday protest staged in front of the school.
The Sentinel has been fighting for independence amid the administration’s intervention in the guise of ‘renewal’ and ‘reorganization.’ The administration stopped collecting publication fee last enrolment without prior consultation with the students.
In its Sept. 27 editorial posted in its Facebook page, The Sentinel said these moves “are blatant attempts to steadily uproot the proper functions and operations of the newspaper.”
The Sentinel further argued, “If our university envisions itself to become an “internationally accredited university dedicated to innovation and excellence”, then it should take note that various premier universities around the world have a functioning campus newspaper that operates with unobstructed editorial independence. If one of their missions is to teach students in becoming “globally-competitive professionals with wholesome values and attitudes”, then they should not close down the training ground for students to exercise their passion of delivering engaging stories to the student body.”
In a dialogue Oct. 4, Dean of Student Affairs Office Jayson Barlan claimed that the Sentinel is an organization that operates under SAO according to CHED memorandum 9 s. 2013. According to a FB post by the Sentinel, Barlan said that the university is “not suppressing campus press freedom” and “the administration assures that it will not interfere with any policies and/or actions of the editorial board.”
With regard to the removal of publication fee, Barlan said the administration is willing to fund the Sentinel directly. He said the school will not be able to collect publication fees for the next semester because a budget has been submitted to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
Asked for his legal opinion, lawyer David Paul Garingo, former associate editor of the Sentinel, argued that the removal of publication fee is a violation of the very memorandum being cited by Barlan. Garingo said it is the SAO’s mandate to ensure the establishment and implementation of student publication as provided for in Republic 7079 or also known as the Campus Journalism Act of 1991. By stopping the collection of publication fee, Garingo said the Lyceum administration violates the CJA of 1991.
The Lyceum administration and the Sentinel have agreed to hold an editorial examinations on October 17. Earlier, the Sentinel called for a boycott of the qualifying examinations for the “student publication” called for by the administration slated on Oct. 4.
The Sentinel submitted its list of demands to the administration, including the collection of publication fees at the soonest time possible, and the creation of independent panel for editorial examinations, among others.
Inside and outside the university, the Sentinel has gained support.
The Lyceum Central Student Government (Lycesgo), political parties Kalayaan, Pamana and Independiente all issued statements of solidarity.
More than a hundred alumni of the Sentinel signed a joint statement calling on the Lyceum administration to “respect and uphold the independence and editorial prerogative” of the 32-year-old student institution.”
“Nothing justifies the administration’s interference with the operations of the student publication,” the Sentinel alumni said.