Posted by: Elmer Brabante | May 28, 2009

KINATAY, part 2


Note: this article is under construction.

[Kinatay – Fil. v. butchered, slain.]

Yesterday, I recieved a text message from the Journal’s “adviser”, saying that the “EIC” threatens to remove me from the editorial board. She (the bogus EIC) takes this act single-handedly, allegedly, because of my unprofessional and ubecoming [conduct]. The nerve of her to announce such bold, violative scheme.

Let me now raise the legal issues surrounding the matter.

1. Law students’ publications are covered by Republic Act 7079, or the Campus Journalism Act of 1991. This I verified with Rep. Teddy Casiño, one of the proponents of the law.

Teddy and I were together in the student movement at that time – I was the National Director for Advocacy of the Natonal Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), while he was the President of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP). The NUSP then criticized Teddy and the CEGP for allowing themselves, wittingly, as instruments in legislating a rather touted as oppressive and delimiting enactment. With rectificatory tone, Teddy and CEGP concluded that we could as well maximize the law in favor of freedom of the press. But as expected, school adminstrators across the country have used the law to perpetuate oppressive acts in violation of our constitutiional rights to speech, expression and of the press.

Hence, going back to the EIC case, the Manila Law Journal is covered by RA 7079. Although the description below its title says, “the official publication of the Manila Law College,” facts and circumstances aver that it is the publication of the law students.

2. The law specifically provides that the student publication shall be independent, “published by the student body through an editorial board and publication staff composed of students selected by fair and competitive examinations. Once the publication is established, its editorial board shall freely determine its editorial policies and manage the publication’s funds.”

On the other hand, Sec 1. Rule VII of the Implementing Rules, provides:

SEC. 1. Selection of Student Staff Members. – The selection of the chief editor and other members of the staff of tertiary student publication shall be through competitive examinations prepared, conducted and supervised by a committee composed of a representative of the school administration, one faculty member, one mass media practitioner who is acceptable to both (school administration and editorial board) and two past editors to be chosen by the outgoing editorial board. [emphasis mine].

No fair and competitive (editorial) examination ever took place. According to a reliable source, there were only three students who took the exams last year: my source, a former student, and the bogus EIC (beic). Interestingly, the bogus EIC, being the Legal English teacher of the College, was the one who conducted the exam. Viola, where on earth could you find an examinee being adminstered by herself as the judge? If she desired to be part of the publication, she could have at least inhibited from being a judge, or vise versa, be a judge and not take the exam. A double personality, a case of conflicting interests. Pronto, this bogus EIC said she was appointed by the Dean to head the publication and gave her the blanket authority to appoint her staff. With due respect to the venerable Dean, but as students of law, would we allow ignorance of the law to reign in our College of Law?

Before the whole scam, I inquired from the Dean’s Secretary if I could still take the exam, having learned from her that no editorial exam had been called so far. She assured me that there was no need for the exam as the editorial board was already being consolidated by this beic. Ironically, I coordinated with the beic, who outright appointed me as her Associate Editor. I admit my fault for perpetuating the seeming conspiracy. I did attempt to seek for the exercise of the proper process, but thinking that perhaps indeed no student was interested to form the publication, I blindly danced to the beic’s cacophony.

Several meetings were held – by only I and the beic. The first was rather awkward. We spent a couple of hours in a cafe, only to listen to her private stories. I had to cut her several times to get to the bottom of the meeting. In other words, the whole concept of the next issue emanated from me, since her only concern was the layout. Why would she trouble ourselves early with the layout when there were no articles yet to layout? She did not even bother to think about the theme. But anyway, it was my moment of privilege to iron out my ideas, thank you. Thereafter, I busied myself doing research and writing the commentary as well as the case digests. (Was I hallucinating or having a delusion of grandeur to claim that we could produce a scholarly journal)?

Thus, the editorial board has been void ab initio. Ergo, it cannot validly publish in the name of the student body and utilize the publication funds for that purpose.

3. The contents of the publication are determined by the editorial board through a deliberative process, and not singularly by the editor-in-chief nor by the adviser. However, supposing that the subject editorial board is legitimate, the herein beic exclusively edited the manuscripts sans the proper deliberative process. She contended that “the edior-in-chief” has all the power and authority to decide what comes out in the paper, and can remove an erring editor and staff.” Whooa, such whimsical power! She might think that she was acting as an adviser for an elementary school paper. Ironically, none of her appointed staff seems to have the gut to question her capricious acts.

4. The appointment of an adviser is optional, according to the decision of the editorial board. And once the editorial board decides to have an adviser, the latter’s function is limited to “technical” advising. In other words, the appointment does not grant the adviser the authority to interfere regarding the contents of the publication. The principle behind this is to allow the students (editors and staff) to manage the publication among themselves, and mature into professional, competent, responsible journalists. The technical aspect would be analogous to making sure that no law is violated by the student editors and staff.

5. The publication fund shall be released only after a canvass and bidding process. Considering arguendo that the editorial board of the Journal is legitimate, no such bidding process accurred. The beic succeeded in getting the funds from the Office of the Dean sans a resolution from the editorial board, a proposal nor any compliance document.

Everyday, violations against RA 7079 and its IRR committed by the bogus editor-in-chief and her cohorts add up. I am preparing my papers, and as I vowed to the “adviser”, I will not take these sitting down.

This is a picture of perss freedom slain. (from http://www.hrcbm.org/genocide/Indigenous_family_slain-01.jpg)

This is a picture of press freedom, slain. (from http://www.hrcbm.org/genocide/Indigenous_family_slain-01.jpg)

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