BAYBAY CITY, Leyte—Amaranth’s statement condemning the decision of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revoke Rappler’s registration, and calling other campus press networks to support media freedom, didn’t go well with its social media followers, mostly coming from the VSU alumni.
In a Facebook post that was published on January 16, 2018, Amaranth stated that it “condemns the decision made by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revoke Rappler’s registration without due process,” and it sees this as an “act as the government’s attempt to censor independent media which stands to interrogate and keep power in check.”
With this, Amaranth called on to other campus journalists to support media freedom and Rappler.
In a couple of hours, the post immediately received a number of negative reactions from its social media followers.
Jl Callera, in his comment, advised Amaranth to avoid expressing personal opinions in its Facebook page.
“Please do not use the student publication to express personal opinion/s. This is a student publication, right?”
Gian Borines even went as far as calling the people working for Amaranth “idiots,” and named the post an ignorant statement against the Constitution and rule of law.
Some called Amaranth a disgrace to the name of Visayas State University (VSU). Erwin Ortega Lechadores commented: “Disgrace namo sa VSU ani Amaranth.” (Amaranth, you are a disgrace to VSU.)
Mark Moreno, named Kram Onerom on Facebook, also expressed the same sentiment in his statement posted in Viscans Collective Facebook group: “Oh my goodness, Amaranth of VSU, don’t give shame to our alma mater. There is no such thing as harassment on press freedom. The issue is a matter on the rule of law prescribed for the constitution. If this is how influenced these students by Rappler is, then good luck to your future. Just to be clear, the SEC did not find anything wrong with the North Base PDR’s and actually found it in order.”
Panuelos Yoko wished Amaranth misfortune in his comment: “Ulol, press freedom daw. Tagal-tagal ng may press freedom. Kahit mag-post ka sa FB, press freedom na ‘yun eh. Sana ma-rape o mapatay ‘yung admin ng page na ‘to. Hayop na ‘to, walang utak and gumawa ng page na ‘to.” (Stupid! Press freedom, you say. It has been present for a long time. Even posting in Facebook is considered press freedom. I hope that the admin of this page would be raped or killed. The ones who created this page are brainless.)
Rhyan Baldicana also reacted: “RIP Rappler. Hahaha! Maayo pang bitayon na ‘ning naa sa media sa Pilipinas, usa na ‘ning Amaranth.” (The people behind Philippine media, including Amaranth, deserve to be hanged.)
Tin Magz said that Amaranth should “function properly” considering that its operating cost comes from the students. She commented: “Ang ako ra ikasulti ninyo Amaranth no, kaulaw sad mo sa mga estudyante. You exist because of their tuition fees. Your operating cost is from the pockets of the students, therefore, function properly. Adto mo pag-post sa inyong walls about sa inyong kaugalingon nga stand kay kaning inyo post, wala man ni gamit sa estudyante. Be more relevant to the students para dili sad usik ang ilang gibayad ninyo. Unya namo pag-hilas-hilas ug ang inyong operating cost gikan sa inyong bulsa. Ayaw mo panundog sa Rappler kay corporation to siya. Sila-sila ray bahala sa ilang budget. Pero kamo? Yes, you are independent from the administration and you are free to decide on matters which you think is relevant. However, it should be beneficial to the students where your operating cost is coming from. Konting hiya naman diyan.”
(Amaranth should feel shame considering that they exist because of the students’ tuition fees. Your operating cost is from the pockets of the students, therefore, function properly. You should post your own opinions in your own Facebook walls because this post is useless for the students. Be more relevant to the students that their payments may not go to waste. You can act rashly later when you pay for your own operating costs. Do not follow Rappler because it is a corporation and they are paying for their own budget. Yes, you are independent from the administration and you are free to decide on matters which you think is relevant. However, it should be beneficial to the students where your operating cost is coming from. Shame on you.)
Professor Ernesto Bulayog, VSU Faculty Regent, pointed out the “arrogance” of the publication for choosing Rappler than its own university.
“Why are the Amaranth kids silent? Who owns Amaranth? Who provides it money? Were the money providers consulted, knowing that the issue is more than your 3K? Do you know that the government will be freeing you from paying miscellaneous fees which may include your publication fee? Where is that arrogance coming from? Will you be as passionate in your article if and when you shout Amaranth demands for better and more classrooms for all and not just for a selected few? Or a banner article or front cover demanding that foods sold to students be price-watched? Aren’t these issues more pressing and meaningful to VSU students than your call for support to Rappler? How indebted are you to Rappler that you’d rather choose to protect Rappler than your own university? Do you know that when you graduate (if you can) your diploma and Transcript of Records bear the name of the Visayas State University and not Rappler Holdings Incorporation?”
Jannel Alkuino asked whether Amaranth’s statement came from the popular opinion of the VSU students. She commented: “Ang ako lang pud ani Ma’am, student publication daw pero kung magsurvey kaha ta sa mga estudyante. Mao ba kaha ni ang stand sa majority? Basig nagsibya hinoon.” (My only concern is that it’s a student publication so why not conduct a survey to the students? Is this really the stand of the majority? What if they are celebrating?)
Joven John Suazo Herbolingo believed that a permission from the students and staff of VSU should have been asked first before making the official statement.
“They should have asked permission first from all staff and students of VSU if they are on the same side to support Rappler or they never were a fan of false news released by Rappler. Don't drag the name of the university if you're the only one who thought it was right to interfere on their case.”
Elena Flores asked whether the removing of the student publication fee is possible.
“Pwede tanggalon sa school fees ‘ning bill sa Amaranth or student publication?”
(Can we remove the student publication fee of the Amaranth from the school fees?)
Aiko S. Lucero challenged the Amaranth staff to expose themselves and vocally support their statement.
He also commented the same: “It’s because of the issue that has gone unexpectedly viral among Beska community, I am throwing challenge to all members of the Amaranth people to come out in the open. Air out your support to your cause and the issue at hand. Para masuta nato kung kamo ba gajud tanan ang uyon ani nga inyong post. Sugdi dajon para mahuwasan ang tanan sa ila mga espekulasyon nga nabahiran ang inyo post sa personal nag tumong sa mga tawo nga unta mao’y magprotekta sa mga tumong ug tinguha sa school paper. Sige kuno bi, sugdi daw ninyo.” (I am throwing challenge to all members of the Amaranth people to come out in the open. Air out your support to your cause and the issue at hand and confirm if all of you really agreed to this post. Address everyone’s speculations saying that your post was motivated with personal intentions of people who are supposed to protect the purpose and ambition of the school paper.)
Despite these, Amaranth was supported by some followers including Janet Colubio Bencure who commented: “Amaranth condemns the decision made by SEC to revoke Rappler's registration without due process. Ang ‘without due process’ ang gicondemn sa Amaranth, dili kay milaban sila sa Rappler. #Justsaying" (Amaranth is condemning SEC’s ‘without due process’ ruling; they were not necessarily defending Rappler.)
Yoyoy Cala also shared his thought. “The corrupt, the plunderers, the minions are throwing insults, jeers to defenders of press freedom. What now minions? What’s left are purveyors of fake news!”
Last January 15, On Monday, the SEC revoked Rappler's license for supposedly violating the constitutional and foreign equity restrictions in mass media. With this, various media groups and campus press networks, including Amaranth, have announced official statements defending press freedom.
Amaranth will soon be releasing an Editorial to address all these reactions.