Campus press freedom- a symbol of academic wisdom
America’s sanctimonious war on terror commenced after the 9/11 attack, which “altered the face of international law, according to SC Chief Reynato Puno, and changed the course of modern history. A year after the US-Iraq war, the god-forsaken kingdom of Saddam Hussein was inundated with violence, rampant anarchy and stench of death.
But how did 9/11 change the course of history? It justified America’s extralegal steps to invade oil-rich countries, Afghanistan and Iraq, thus signaling the start of global Oil War Games. But then, the world’s super-power’s unilateral arrogance awakened the bi-polar worlds, Europe and Asia, a scenario that might trigger a shift of America’s unilateralism to multilateralism. This is because the prospect that Europe and Asia might move towards greater independence has troubled US planners since the Second World War.
It turned out that such a unilateral egotism did not appear pleasant to the rest of the worlds, most especially to the American voters who put an end to the control of the Republicans in both the US senate and congress.
In the Philippines, the issue of global war on terror served as a political blanket for the Arroyo administration at the height of Hello Garci controversy. One doesn’t have to be a political analyst to decipher the intent of the Arroyo regime on pushing the red button. The timing of the government’s declaration of war against insurgents is doubtful. In my own words, it’s not done in good faith, considering that this government has lots of more crucial things to do, and lots of explaining to do, like giving light on the Hello Garci issue, etc.
Amid public clamor for her to step-down or to make a supreme sacrifice, Mrs. Arroyo instead ordered the release of P1 billion for the so-called anti-insurgency operations. The public, including the government’s enemies, did not see it coming. But the people are not that idiot to buy the Palace’s rhetoric, because it only illustrates the administration’s misplaced priorities of political survival over people’s welfare.
Despite what the World Bank said that about 15 million Filipinos survive on 48 pesos a day (a report that Arroyo’s allies strongly dispute, as they claimed that the figure really was 10.5 million not 15 million), this regime obstinately continue to inject monetary steroids into its military veins. In fact, in the 2006 national budget, expenditures for defense were increased by P8.2 billion to P52.4 billion. In contrast, health was only given P13.7 billion and housing, P2.8 billion.
This scenario is cynically normal to a government struggling to survive under extreme offshore and domestic censure and pressure. That’s why former DAWN editor in chief and now Philippine Daily Inquirer editorial consultant and columnist Amando Doronila categorized the Philippines as a ‘failed state.’ Actually, he was referring to the idea of Noam Chomsky, an MIT philosophy professor and linguist, who “puts a new dimension to the notion of failed states by examining and expanding it in the framework of systems acquiring some of the features of failed states, conventionally applied to states regarded as potential threats to our security (like Iraq).”
It’s sad to note that we now have a regime run by political maniacs obsessively determined to arrogate power unto themselves amid stark penury, bloodshed and social malady. The Filipinos really are living in a country scarred by political tumor and social hemorrhage.
Extrajudicial killings would continue to haunt this land so long as we have a government suffering from sickness of illegitimacy and of morale ascendancy to govern. Dissents and criticisms are always exacted with the rule of force and even legal and extralegal ways that often always lead to the diminution of human rights.
These upsetting post-millennial experiences of our country should serve as a valuable example for the next generations. They should boost the Filipino spirit, instead of shattering it, to achieve national reinvention.
On May 3, journalists, whether Filipinos or foreigners, or those in campus papers or mainstream, are going to commemorate International Press Freedom Day. There is nothing to celebrate on that day… there is a something to mourn for. To mourn not only the death of the 51 Filipino journalists, but the death of democracy in the country as well. To borrow the words of UN Special Rapporteur Prof. Philip Alston, the government is now in the state of denial – that the country is now under a de facto authoritarian rule.
Mrs. Arroyo and his men should learn from the big wigs of the University. Without any doubt, the DAWN still remains the most independent campus publication in the Philippines. Many campus papers, including the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, are not unaware of this fact.
I’m not saying we totally enjoy this immunity; we take this as a challenge to strive for better journalistic endeavors. This is the sole reason why we continue to exist – to inform our constituents and to let the big wigs know about what’s happening in some academic and administrative parts of the campus. Again, the idea of respect and understanding comes into view, which is the byproduct of wisdom, of sympathy. And this spin-off always leads to coexistence.
In the past, so many people tried to shut down the DAWN in the name of better publication and skewed legal stipulations. This is because according to a maxim immortalized by Sophocles, “Nobody likes the man who brings bad news.” For example, a former campus official was never run out of devices in trying to convince the administration to shut down the publication. There was even a time when some officials joined forces to stop the collection of DAWN funds.
Most of those who sought its abolition were newcomers. All of these “anti-Dawn” campaigns did not materialize. Under my two-year term, the DAWN never took the opportunity to exact vengeance against our critics by trying to scavenge some of their dirty secrets. That scheme is utterly unethical, against the journalist code of ethics, against the basic principles of this institution. The DAWN does not determine friends or foes simply because we do not benefit from our reports. Simply because we must be objective and truthful in all our reports at all times.
That’s why I believe that the University is one of the most democratic educational institutions in the country. We receive complaints every week, but they are nothing compared to those grumbles of students from other schools. Chairman P.O. Domingo himself even said that Catholic schools niggardly recognize academic freedom for students.
I have a cousin enrolled in a nearby pink university owned by another taipan. She told me that grades in her school are for sale. She herself is one of those buyers, because only last semester, she paid two of her subjects for a grade of 2.50. After the sale, she was advised by her professors not to attend her class anymore, perhaps to prevent any suspicion. My cousin told me that no one has the guts to report this unscrupulous business of her professors before of the absence of any independent campus paper in her school. Naturally, college heads in that campus will just keep the skeletons in their office closet.
Also in that pink-walled campus, including other schools in U-Belt, students are absolutely not allowed to take exams if they don’t have permit. Here, most of the students I know told me that they were still allowed to take their exams even if were unable to pay for their accounts.