By Gabriela Baron
Veteran journalists slammed the alleged forced public apology ordered on the editor-in-chief of campus publication the University of the East Dawn.
Multi-awarded Inday Espina-Verona said that threatening Joshua Molo of UE Dawn with arrest on grounds of anti-government sentiment is a violation of his constitutional right to free expression.
“A high school student tangling on Facebook with teachers could arguably get in trouble with conservative school management. But Molo is grown-up, an editor at one of the countries biggest schools,” Espina-Verona wrote on Facebook.
Philippine Graphic editor-in-chief Joel Pablo Salud echoed the same sentiments.
“What sort of teachers would take the constitutionally assured exercise of free speech against this university student editor? These are former teachers in high school; the young man is now in college,” Salud said.
“Is this the kind of system these teachers are propagating — coercion, intimidation, harassment of those who will exercise their right to free speech? To make matters more disturbing, these teachers were allegedly his former Campus Journalism instructors in high school,” he added.
Karen Davila, meanwhile, said that what Molo’s ex-teachers and barangay tanod did to him was “revolting.”
“They tried to strip him of his dignity and right to free speech by having him issue a public apology… for what?”
Regine Cabato of Washington Post said that student press is also a part of free press.
“In times of crisis like this, we need to hear young people instead of shush them,” Cabato wrote on Twitter.
Journ.Assortedge, the campus journalism arm of Youth-led media organization Assortedge, denounced harassment and threats Molo received.
“It is [an] explicit attack to every Filipino’s right to free expression that is enshrined in the constitution,” it said in a statement.
“At this time of test, we need to protect Filipino citizens’ right to free expression as well as their participation in the check and balance of the government. As one community, we will never condone criminalizing dissent and freedom of speech.”
Molo was allegedly forced to issue a public apology before barangay officials in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija after criticitzing the Duterte administration in an online argument with his former teachers.
Molo was escorted by barangay officials to the barangay hall on Saturday afternoon where his apology was recorded and a blotter entry was made.
After Molo’s apology went viral on Facebook and met with uproar, the barangay officials asked him to take it down.