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‘National Campus Press Freedom Day’ bill to be transmitted for Duterte’s signature

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By Charissa Luci-Atienza

The bill seeking to declare July 25 of every year as “National Campus Press Freedom Day” is expected to be transmitted to Malacañang for President Duterte’s signature.

Members of College Editors Guild of the Philippines protest on press freedom at Mendiola, Manila on Wednesday after SEC ordered the closure of Rappler . (JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Members of College Editors Guild of the Philippines protest on press freedom at Mendiola, Manila after SEC ordered the closure of Rappler. (JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

The transmittal will be made after the Senate decided to adopt House Bill 6024, which seeks to declare July 25 of every year as “National Campus Press Freedom Day”, as an amendment to Senate Bill 747.

The enrolled copy of the bill “shall soon be transmitted to Malacañang for the approval and signature of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” according to the statement issued by the Press and Public Affairs Bureau of the House of Representatives.

HB 6024 was principally authored by Reps. Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna partylist and Ann Hofer of Zamboanga Sibugay, while, outgoing Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero authored the Senate version of the bill.

“Today, the campus press continues to defend the interest and welfare of the Filipino people by tackling both national and sectoral issues—providing a free and adequate venue for the discussion of student concerns,” the third-termer Zarate said in pushing for the enactment of the bill into law.

He said the State should promote, protect and safeguard the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression, speech and of the press.

The progressive lawmaker cited the historic role and contribution of campus press to press freedom in the country.

“As part of the alternative press or the so-called ‘mosquito press’ during the dark days of martial law, campus media helped expose the real state of the country during the dictatorship,” he said.

He noted that the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), an alliance of tertiary student publications nationwide — the largest and oldest organization of its kind in the Asia Pacific Region, was founded on July 25, 1931.

“The date also coincides with the birthday of Ernesto Rodriguez Jr., the founder of the CEGP and former editor-in-chief of The National (the campus publication of the National University),” he added.

Recognizing that the campus press is important in promoting and protecting the freedom of the press and the freedom of expression, the bill seeks to promote the observance of July 25 of every year as “National Campus Press Freedom Day.”

“The observance of “National Campus Press Freedom Day” shall be done in all educational institutions,” the bill said.

It provides that all educational institutions shall provide full support and assistance to the preparation of the annual program of activities and events to be conducted by students in observance of the proposed “National Campus Press Freedom Day.”

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