80th ANNIVERSARY STATEMENT
Pauline Gidget Estella
National deputy secretary general
With passion and fearlessness
“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.” – Sigmund Freud
What does it take to exist for 80 years?
It is a question so frequently asked. What is it that enabled College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), the widest, oldest and only existing alliance of student publications, to exist for 80 years? Let us revisit history, for history, as they say, is a measure of an institution.
CEGP has always been known for its involvement in various national issues, in the same way as the youth has been a powerful force in social transformation. In the 1950’s, the CEGP joined the workers of the Evening News in a strike, seeing that the removal of one of the employees was unjust. The Guild also figured in the rise of radicalism in the 60’s.
In the following decades, CEGP, has taken a firm stance against foreign domination, against bogus agrarian reform, against massacres in the site of political power and the Cojuangcos’ source of political power. It actively called for the ouster of a much despised president, called for justice in the single deadliest event for journalists, called for the removal of counter-insurgency schemes that do not really distinguish between civilians and armed rebels.
With that said, the history of CEGP is indeed a history of struggle. Struggle is so common a term, yet a term feared by some, including journalists who are scared to use the word. Dictionaries define struggle as the exertion of arduous effort at the face of difficulty, while some people define struggle as part of the clash of two opposing forces.
CEGP, for so many decades, deemed it necessary to register a stand at a time when the conditions implore the act. The struggle is an inevitable outcome for the people who live under the dire circumstances, and the most rightful option for those who desire change. For CEGP, the objective is to serve the people, and as such, these campus journalists have devoted time and effort – even their lives – to struggle alongside them.
This character never changed. Now, in the 80th year of the alliance, its commitment to press freedom and people’s rights remains steadfast. After all, the conditions before continue to the present, but their continuity is determined by the intensity of the struggle.
Campus press freedom violations continue, as the crisis in education – as manifested in massive tuition increases, dubious miscellaneous fees, harassment of student leaders – exists. CEGP joins these repressed publications in their campaign for freedom of speech to be exercised within the academe – joins them in educational discussions with the students, joins them with a statement condemning the violation of a constitutionally guaranteed right, joins them in dialogues with the school administration.
At the same time, the status quo outside the university is still nothing like a rosy picture. The mother of poverty – landlessness, foreign domination and incompetent governance – has yet to be eradicated. Farmers continue to till the land that is not theirs, forced into submission, deceived by schemes such as that in Hacienda Luisita, the property of the president’s family. Journalists, professionals, students and other civilians still experience different forms of human rights violations as the military’s token for asserting their rights. Wages remain unjustly low as the prices of oil and commodities shoot up not because of “fluctuations in the world market” but because of the monopoly in the means of production.
For its 80th year, the CEGP has found the necessity to strongly struggle against foreign domination, a stance that is not foreign to its orientation. The present circumstances justify this, and the Guild believes that now is the time to finally familiarize ourselves with the term “imperialism.” Imperialism is not just a word shouted by militants in the streets – it is a reality for the Filipino people.
The new face of imperialism is that of corporations and international business empires that exploit our resources and manpower for the sake of profit, and the expense of our forests and rivers. The new face of imperialism is that of companies that depress wages and remove rights and benefits in the name of money. The new face is monopoly of a few corporations and the myth of “perfect completion.” The new face is that of a superpower enjoying the loose protectionist provisions in a country such as ours.
Unchecked monopoly is not the only characteristic of imperialism. Military presence is necessary to ensure economic supremacy. Hence, in the context of its worsening economic crisis, the United States of America saw the need to shift its focus from the Middle East to the Asia Pacific region, citing the wide range of economic opportunities in East Asia. In the process, the US state has ordered the deployment of more US troops in the country, which it considers as its outpost in the region.
US military presence has always been linked to a series of human rights violations and rape cases. This April, the Balikatan is set to begin in Palawan and around 6,000 troops will be deployed for the joint military exercises.
These are the conditions that call for a firm stance against the reality that is imperialism. As campus journalists, an in honor of the Guild’s 80 year legacy, we have the duty to explain this truth to our fellow youth, which Jose Rizal, a propagandist, described as the undying hope of the nation. Now is the time to unhesitatingly use the term imperialism, without fear of the term. A character in a famous novel said that fear of the name increases fear of the thing itself. Imperialism should not be feared, it must be fought against.
The question “what is to be expected from the Guild in the years to come,” based on its history, is therefore not difficult to answer. It will still promote a type of journalism that takes the stand based on objective conditions of exploitation and inequity. The type of journalism that its alumni – Emmanuel Lacaba, Wenceslao Vinzons, Antonio Tagamolila, and many others – have espoused. The type of journalism that characterized its beautiful history. It will, without apologies.
For what does it take to exist for 80 years? It takes passion and fearlessness.
From CEGP National