On the Anomalous Outcome of the Philippine Collegian Editorial Exam

The recently held editorial examination has only sparked protests to uphold the integrity of the editor selection process, and highlighted calls to defend not just the Collegian but the free press in general. (Philippine Collegian)

The Philippine Collegian, as one of the longest running campus publications in the country, has been at the forefront of exposing the dire socio-political and economic situation not only of the Iskolar ng Bayan of the University of the Philippines-Diliman, but also of the vast marginalized and oppressed sectors. Its progressive and pro-people tradition of journalism has tackled issues concerning the basic sectors and has given them the voice to speak in their pages.

Recently, campus journalists from the Philippine Collegian were barred from participating in their own editorial examinations. Last May 5, the Board of Judges (BOJ) barred Richard Cornelio and Marvin Ang despite various protest on the irregularities of the examination. What is even worse is that BOJ head Elena Pernia, also the College of Mass Communication (CMC) Dean, showed her ineptitude in handling the selection process of the next editor-in-chief by misinterpreting some provisions that govern the examination.

In light of the recent attacks to the Philippine press, it is a shame that Pernia and her cohorts deliberately deprived Cornelio and Ang from participating in the selection process. It is akin to what President Rodrigo Duterte have done to Rappler journalist Pia Ranada when he barred her from coverning Malacanang events and media briefings. Like Ranada, Cornelio and Ang were deprived of their right based on groundless assumptions.

Pernia is notorious for the incessant waves of oppressive anti-student policies in the College of Mass Communication. From the unreasonable saksak and rental fees, denying of recognition of student organizations and filing of unwanted disciplinary cases against student leaders, she only proved her anti-student character by attacking the Philippine Collegian.

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines believe that the current composition of the BOJ have already lost their mandate and ascendancy in spearheading the selection process of the next editor in chief of the Philippine Collegian. We strongly urge them conduct a new editorial exam and resign from their post from the BOJ. If the BOJ insist on upholding the result of the editorial examination conducted last May 5, they are only mocking and undermining the very institution, profession and people they should serve.

We also call on every Iskolar ng Bayan of UP Diliman to resist all kinds of attacks to press freedom and support the Philippine Collegian. We should not let the normalization of such callous acts. This fight is not only of the two journalists who were barred from taking the exam or the Philippine Collegian. This is your fight to have a free and critical student publication that genuinely serves the interest of the student body and the Filipino people.

In the midst of looming dictatorship and widespread oppression, it is necessary to have a publication that is critical, fearless and unapologetic.

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