By Alexandra Gabrielle Francisco
Students of the College of Mass Communication (CMC) laid out today an eight-point media agenda for President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 26.
The agenda, convened upon by all college organizations and the CMC Student Council (CMCSC), calls on the Aquino administration to wipe out the culture of impunity in the country and to clear its position on media killings.
The administration of former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo must be accountable for extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances that happened in her term, said the students.
Students urged the president to respect human rights, forward the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill and block attempts to pass the Right of Reply Bill to foster the development of a free press.
They pressed for higher state subsidy for the public information system, while urging the government to allow state-owned media networks IBC 13, NBN 4 and RPN 9 to criticize the administration.
Pushing for the self-regularization of film and television, the agenda calls on the president to recognize the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) as a “transition body,” not a censorship body.
The agenda pushed for job security for media practitioners, abolition of media corruption and a “mature art sector that fosters nationalism.” (See transcript <link here>)
Eyes on Aquino
“We shall watch along with the rest of the Filipino people if he (Aquino) is really embodying the ‘democracy’ he claims to represent. Or else, it is that democracy that will throw him out of (his) seat,” said the students in the agenda.
In the press conference today, CMC dean Roland Tolentino said media killings are part of a “sad reality” in the profession.
The call of the media agenda does not stop in the press conference but continues to President Aquino’s first SONA on Monday, Tolentino said.
Tolentino said President Aquino has much to prove if he is to distinguish himself from his predecessor, under whose administration the country was dubbed as the most dangerous place to practice journalism.
By heeding the media agenda, President Aquino can prove that he is continuing the freedom-fighting legacy of his parents, said Tolentino.
Meanwhile, journalism major Pauline Gidget Estella, editor-in-chief of the Philippine Collegian said the media faces violence, corporate interests, “shoddy reporting” and extra-judicial killings which hamper their work as the Fourth Estate.
“As time goes by, hindi na lang siya basta tinotolerate. Ito na rin ay inoorchestrate ng State,” said Estella.
To confront these issues, there is a need to strengthen the alternative press and uproot incompetence, which has been used the state as a justification for repression, said Estella.
The editor-in-chief said journalists should cease to become “passive” givers of information, but begin providing alternative analysis from that of the government.
A candle lighting ceremony of the student council and the college organizations marked their support of the agenda.
CMCSC chairperson Sherwin Su said the candle stands for the media’s responsibility to “not let go of the light.”
“Anong magiging silbi (ng ilaw) kung hindi ipapasa sa mga nangangailangan?” said Su.