De Lima files bill to shield campus journalists from harassment
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila de Lima filed a bill to replace the Campus Journalism Act of 1991 with a law that shields campus journalists from harassment and intimidation, and "genuinely upholds campus press freedom."
In a statement on Sunday, July 15, De Lima's office said she has filed Senate Bill 1868. De Lima explained that the Campus Journalism Act, or Republic Act (RA) 7079, has "its serious flaws and deficiencies in promoting the growth and development of campus journalism."
In filing Senate Bill 1868, De Lima pointed out "that some student journalists experience harassment and intimidation from their own schools, especially when they oppose or are critical of school programs and policies."
The bill comes comes after San Beda Senior High School stopped The Bedan Roar, its official campus publication, from releasing 1,700 copies of its second issue in April.
The Bedan Roar's April edition tackled President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-drug campaign and the proliferation of fake news in the Philippines. The school administration found the Bedan Roar's content "too critical and too negative for the community of San Beda." (READ: Philippine media under attack: Press freedom after 2 years of Duterte)
Duterte is a graduate of the San Beda College of Law.
According to De Lima, her proposed law should then ensure that campus journalists get "consistent and reliable source of funds," "in-depth training," and "the freedom to determine the content of their publication."
The Campus Journalism Act declared that it is State policy "to uphold and protect the freedom of the press even at the campus level and to promote the development and growth of campus journalism."
The Supreme Court in its 2000 ruling in Miriam College vs the Court of Appeals, however, provided an exception under the current law: The school administration can suspend students and even prevent publication "when such articles materially disrupt class work or involve substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others."
De Lima said: "By repealing the present law, and replacing it with a law that genuinely upholds campus press freedom, we can once again reclaim campus journalism as it once were – an unbiased, untainted avenue of self-expression, critical and creative thinking, and a beacon of nationalism and democracy." – Rappler.com