An Lantawan autonomy under siege; CEGP, student pubs decry LNU’s move

The Leyte Normal University (LNU) administration has allegedly “denied recognition” of An Lantawan (AL) as the official tertiary student publication requiring the latter to undergo accreditation, said the statement of unity of the College of Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) posted on its social media page on October 24, 2023.

Also, The Communicator, the official student publication of the Department of Communication at Laguna University, reposted yesterday a call for unity statement denouncing the alleged campus press attacks against the student publication AL by the LNU administration.

In these trying times, we stand with An Lantawan, the official tertiary student publication of Leyte Normal University.

Starting this school year, AL has been denied recognition by their university administration, subjecting them to needless bureaucracies like requiring them for the first time ever to be accredited, like other ordinary student organizations. Despite their best efforts, they have not yet been accredited, and thus, are not allowed to mobilize and function officially.

Without a duly appointed editorial board for this year, AL funds are held hostage. They have been given clear instructions not to use the An Lantawan name indefinitely. And now, their Facebook page of 40,000 followers has been renamed as the LNU – Student Publication Office.
An Lantawan is one of the most promising student publications in Eastern Visayas, and we wish to see it function and thrive as a free campus press.

We call on the LNU administration to give An Lantawan the recognition and support it is due.
And we call on Normalistas, LNU alumni, fellow campus journalists, and the greater higher education community to be one with An Lantawan. We also appeal to the Commission on Higher Education, with the leadership of Chairperson J. Prospero E. De Vera III, to look into this issue and help a struggling student publication regain its footing.

If An Lantawan—a leading campus press in Eastern Visayas—can be stifled, so can we.
We are all An Lantawan.

On October 24, 2023, the Philippine Pundit sent an inquiry letter to the LNU administration asking for clarification on the basis for the alleged denial of recognition against the autonomous student press institution like An Lantawan. As of press time, the LNU has not yet responded.

Meanwhile, the CEGP, the largest, oldest, and only existing student publications alliance in the Asia-Pacific region, issued a unity statement denouncing the LNU’s alleged effort to derecognize AL as an official tertiary student publication of the university—a leading campus press in Eastern Visayas.

CEGP unity statement denouncing LNU's effort against An Lantawan

Moreover, UP Vista, the official student publication of the UP Tacloban College, also issued a solidarity statement calling on the LNU administration to “keep its hands off” An Lantawan.

UP Vista further says that the “act of ‘delegitimizing’ An Lantawan” implies “a foreshadowing of a centralized system that curtails dissent and implies a trace of a centrifugal force that attempts to cement an authoritative administration with little to no regard for contention.”

Concurrently, the AL Alumni released a solidarity statement recognizing the recent progress that allowed AL to reclaim its official name and the use of its official logo which AL was previously prohibited from using them.

However, the LNU administration reportedly maintained its decision, as of this writing, for AL to comply with accreditation requirements the alumni called it out as a “band-aid solution.”

AL Alumni called for the LNU administration to respect student press autonomy and to uphold campus press freedom. The alumni recalled the cyber libel complaint filed by a student council candidate against the AL former editor-in-chief in July 2023 that reportedly prompted the former and the editorial board members of the student publication to be summarily removed from their positions.

Reportedly, AL was told to “refrain from posting Op-Ed articles critical to the current political landscape,” the solidarity statement said. Moreover, the requirement for accreditation imposed by the LNU administration to AL controverted the University’s Student Manual, the statement further said.

Furthermore, as provided for by the Campus Journalism Act of 1991, the AL alumni asserted, “the editorial board of the publication shall freely determine its editorial policies and manage the publication’s funds,” and thus, school administrations have no legal basis to withhold such funds.

Finally, AL alumni calls on the LNU administration

To uphold its vision and mission of responding to the development needs of society towards inclusive growth and sustainability by giving An Lantawan due recognition as official student publication of LNU and honoring its mandate as an independent student body. Attacking the independence of An Lantawan is clearly an affront to press freedom. We call on the university administrators to respect An Lantawan’s right to assert itself as an independent, critical, and creative campus press. It is high time that the university recognizes its function of providing for a free and critical discourse of ideas and developing ethical values.


Leave a Reply