“This is a clear attempt of state oppressors to unnerve media entities that maintain a line of reportage reflective of the real social-political situation of the public.”
By JOMARI ALEJANDRO III HERRERA
MANILA – The attempted inspection and surveillance on the office of the student paper of the University of the Philippines is not the first, according to a group of student journalists.
College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) National President Daryl Baybado said they have recorded campus press freedom violations (CPFV) ranging from defunding, harassment by military officers, and even to closure.
In the past decade alone, he said, the Guild documented almost a thousand violations throughout the country, many of which have been filed before the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
Baybado’s statement was issued after the student bi-weekly paper Philippine Collegian, also known as Kule, reported on their social media accounts on Saturday, Nov. 16, that a suspected intelligence officer was attempting to enter the publication office to ‘inspect’ the office for a regular ‘surveillance.’ Two other men were seen lurking at the nearby College of Home Economics Building Annex.
Members of the UP Diliman Police (UPDP) apprehended the man who later introduced himself as Wilfredo Manapat, 28. This time, however, he claimed he was only looking for his friends.
“As a desperate measure to gag the press, the tyrant Duterte ensures its control over school publications – which in history – held essential roles in keeping Filipinos informed and in pushing them to fight for rights and freedom,” Baybado said.
The attempted break in at Kule’s office happened a day after Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año warned that the National Youth Camp, a two-day event also being help in UP, “might be used by ‘communist front groups’ to agitate and recruit students.”
In recent weeks, there have also been a series of raids, arrests, and attempted raids of offices of progressive groups in what appears to be a crackdown against dissent.
AlterMidya – People’s Media Network, an umbrella organization of alternative media outfits in the country, condemned the incident as “a brazen attack on Philippine Collegian and the campus press.”
“This is a clear attempt of state oppressors to unnerve media entities that maintain a line of reportage reflective of the real social-political situation of the public,” the statement of the Union of Journalists of the Philippines – UP, the student arm of National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, read.
Apart from the Collegian, intimidation and harassment were reported by campus press from UP Cebu (Himati), Polytechnic University of the Philippines (The Catalyst), Camarines Sur Polytechnic College-Nabua (The Spark), Ateneo de Naga University (The Pillars), Mariners Polytechnic College Foundation (The Seafarer’s Gazette), and Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA) – Main Campus (The Stateans).