Suspension ruling may stall up graduation of 4 student editors
Three days before Sunday’s graduation rites of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, four editors of the alternative student publication Rebel Kule are facing suspension from the university in connection with still pending cases of stealing, fraud and disobedience.
But UP Chancellor Michael Tan said he remained optimistic that the students—Beatrice Puente, John Kenneth Zapata, Mark Verndick Cabading and Richard Cornelio—would be able to join the commencement exercises.
UP President Danilo Concepcion, who was still on travel on Wednesday, has yet to decide on their cases, Tan said.
The student editors were notified early this week that the Executive Committee of the University Council had decided to overturn on June 20 an earlier ruling of the UP Student Disciplinary Council to dismiss the charges filed against them by Jayson Edward San Juan, outgoing editor in chief of the Philippine Collegian.
In a two-page letter, the committee imposed the suspension of the Rebel Kule editors for one semester and five weeks.
Rebel Kule, an offshoot of UP’s official student publication Philippine Collegian or “Kule,” was revived in September last year by former Collegian staff members, who protested the selection of San Juan as editor in chief because of “unfair editorial exams.”
In October last year, San Juan filed a complaint against members of the Rebel Kule editorial board, accusing them of acts of misconduct by claiming control over the Collegian’s “digital assets,” which include the publication’s official Facebook and Twitter accounts.
The Student Disciplinary Council found no basis for the complaint, but San Juan made an appeal to the committee on April 10.
Citing the 2012 Code of Student Conduct, the Rebel Kule editors insisted that the EC ruling dated June 20 had already exceeded the two-month period required for the body to decide on an appeal.
For Zapata, Rebel Kule graphics editor and a graduating student of Visual Communication, the ruling came as a surprise for his group since they had “adhered to due process in submitting sufficient evidence” for their cases.
He said he wished the UP administration would decide on the matter “within the supposed time frame.”
“My mother even came home from abroad just to see me graduate, but in the end that could not happen,” said Zapata.
Since the Philippine Collegian was founded in 1922, the Rebel Kule has been revived four times by campus journalists in UP.
It serves as the voice of student resistance, especially during times of crisis and suppression by the state such as martial law under the Marcos regime.
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