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DLSU vows to adhere to Campus Journalism Act amid UST's censorship on org's 7-Eleven photo

By NICK GARCIA Published Feb 21, 2024 7:03 pm Updated Feb 21, 2024 7:36 pm

De La Salle University (DLSU) on Feb. 21 vowed to adhere to the principles of the Campus Journalism Act of 1991—on the heels of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) administration’s censorship of a campus media organization.

Through DLSU’s Help Desk Announcement, the university said it reaffirmed its commitment “to creating an environment where diverse voices thrive and ensuring that we uphold press freedom at the campus level.” The Lasallian, the university's official student publication, also shared a screenshot of the email on Facebook.

DLSU reminded Lasallians of their right to expression, saying they have the right “to explore different issues and perspectives with critical thinking and respect.”

The school, however, reminded student journalists to observe responsible and ethical journalism.

The Help Desk Announcement from De La Salle University's Student Media Office sent to the Lasallian community via email. (Nikko Miguel Garcia)

“Truth and transparency must be upheld in all forms of expression,” it said. “Verifying all sources of information is vital in combating misinformation and upholding ethical practices.”

In any case, it urged Lasallian journalists to “hold institutions accountable through responsible and informed analysis,” saying it helps in “strengthening the democracy within the academic community.”

“Through our commitment to these principles,” DLSU said, “the Lasallian student media practitioners can collectively uphold the legacy of the Campus Journalism Act and continue to pave the way for a University where diverse voices are heard, empowered, respected, and used to build a brighter future.”

UST made headlines after its Office for Student Affairs (OSA) ordered TomasinoWeb to delete a photo that, it said, has become a “source of public ridicule.”

The photo depicts students from the College of Information and Computing Sciences wearing their “Type B” uniforms—alternatives to the typical school uniform due to the upcoming tag-init or “summer”—entering the convenience store 7-Eleven. There have been jokes that the Type B uniforms of CICS students and 7-Eleven employees are alike due to their color and design.

TomasinoWeb president Jan Carlo Zamora said the OSA warned their organization of possible non-accreditation due to the photo. The organization deleted the photo and issued a public apology.

Their adviser Leo Laparan, who’s also The Philippine STAR desk editor, said they stood by their decision to keep the photo but had to give in to OSA’s demand, prompting him to resign as adviser due to the “glaring illustration of censorship.”

TomasinoWeb, which is not technically a student publication but an organization under OSA, halted its operations. According to OSA rules, organizations whose advisers have resigned must “cease to post anything until such time that a new adviser is appointed.”

The Campus Journalism Act of 1991, in line with the “declared policy of the State to uphold and protect the freedom of the press,” seeks to “promote the development and growth of campus journalism as a means of strengthening ethical values, encouraging critical and creative thinking, and developing moral character and personal discipline of the Filipino youth.”

It states how a student publication is independently published by students, how the school must fund the publication, and how students may recommend appointing an adviser to be selected by the administration.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, through its 2021 e-book The Ethical Guide for Filipino Journalists, said the core principles of the profession include the following:

  • truth, where one “shall strive to report and interpret the news truthfully and accurately without omitting essential information, distorting the truth or misleading the public";
  • independence, where one “shall observe the highest levels of professionalism in their relationships with their sources, news subjects and colleagues";
  • fairness, where one “shall give the subjects of unfavorable reports the full opportunity to respond to criticisms, allegations or other negative statements that are being used against them";
  • justice, where one “shall instill a sense of justice in their reporting, speak truth to power and lend an ear to the voiceless and the vulnerable";
  • accountability, where one “shall take full responsibility for their reporting and professional conduct"; and
  • humanity, where one “shall let conscience guide their conduct and strive to do no harm against innocents.”