by: Nathanielle Punay
“Defend! Defend! Defend Press Freedom!”
This was one of the slogans chanted by students from Ateneo de Manila University’s Consortium of Publications as they gathered outside the school’s Gate 2.5 on Friday, Jan. 19.
The day was marked “Black Friday” by various media groups to protest the decision of the Security and Exchange Commission to cancel the certificate of registration of the online news site Rappler.
President Rodrigo Duterte and his supporters have repeatedly complained that Rappler’s coverage was too criticial of government. The SEC’s move is seen as an attack on press freedom.
The participants were mostly student journalists from the campus publications Heights Ateneo, The Guidon and Matanglawin. They were later joined by their counterparts from the University of the Philippines’s Philippine Collegian and the University Santo Tomas’ The Varsitarian.
Other organizations such as Ateneo Entablado, College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), League of Filipino Students (LFS), Anakbayan and Kabataan Partylist also participated.
“Pinapakita lamang nito na nagkakaisa at hindi natatakot ang mga mamamahayag pang-campus. Ang mga pahayagan na bagama’t maliit ay may tinig pa rin (This just shows that campus journalists are united and fearless, and even when we are small in number we still have a voice.),” CEGP national president Jose Mari Callueng said.
The protesters later dispersed to join other journalists for the Black Friday Protest at the Boy Scout Circle on Tomas Morato Avenue in Quezon City.
Nathanielle Punay is a journalism senior student of Polytechnic University of the Philippines and an intern of Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University