Rachel Ivy Reyes

Student journalists and publications expressed support for An Lantawan, the official student publication of Leyte Normal University, which struggles to operate independently due to bureaucratic accreditation policies.

Photo Courtesy of CampusJourn 

College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) National Spokesperson Brell Lacerna, in a post, calls the directives of the LNU a maneuver to stifle the academic freedom of the university to organize and exercise press freedom.

“Tayo ay tulad ng An Lantawan. Sa ambang pagsasara nila, pagpatay rin ito sa kalayaan sa pamamahayag at pag-kritik ng mga estudyante sa represibong edukasyon na dapat malayang nagbubuo ng organisasyon, nagsusulat at nagproprotekta sa kanilang mga karapatan,” Lacerna said.

In a statement, CEGP-Eastern Visayas condemned the abrupt order of the university to bar the publication from using its name and logo.

"Kaya naman, hindi tama ang ganitong taktika na ipasailalim sa kontrol ng administrayon ang naturang publikasyon dahil sila ay isang independenteng institusyon na may editorial autonomy," said CEGP.

The alliance also iterated in the statement that An Lantawan needs no accreditation as campus publications are independent institutions--not organizations.

Independent media company CampusJourn released a solidarity statement calling on the university administration to provide the campus paper its due support and recognition.

“In these trying times, we stand with An Lantawan, the official tertiary student publication of Leyte Normal University. If An Lantawan–a leading campus press in Eastern Visayas–can be stifled, so can we,” the statement read.

Due to its new accreditation requirements, the publication struggles to mobilize, especially with its withheld budget.

Despite the publication’s several attempts to process the requirements needed for accreditation, they have not been accredited to date. The new accreditation process also withholds the fund of the publication.

Kimberly Mae Ortego, An Lantawan’s former editor-in-chief, stated her dismay over the sudden name change and funding issues.

“For one, I did not like the way the University has turned it [An Lantawan] into its own public relations arm when in fact, student publications function as independent student organizations. An Lantawan has its own trust fund which was maintained and looked after by its own editorial board,” Ortego said.

The former chief added: This name change and suppression from the administration is an atrocious act from an entity that should promote truth and freedom.

In another solidarity statement signed by alumni members of the publication, the page An Lantawan Alumni roots their condemnation of the issue on past reprimands over political standings.

“We are skeptical of the timing of these sudden impositions, given that in the past year alone, there has been increased scrutiny of the publication and its editorial board,” the statement said.

The post mentions a political rally in April 2022, a cyberlibel complaint against a past editor-in-chief and some OpEd pieces to have been among the tirades against An Lantawan before the October censorship issue.

“With this and the demand for accreditation, the intention of the university to censor An Lantawan by hiding behind technicalities and bureaucratic procedures is loud and clear,” the statement added.