/ 23 April 2023

FOUR lawmakers are pushing for a measure protecting the freedom of speech and of association rights of students attending institutions of higher education.

House Bill 4715 or the proposed Freedom of Speech and of Association on Campus Act was filed by Representatives Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr., Miguel Luis Villafuerte, Tsuyoshi Anthony Horibata, and Nicolas Enciso VIII.

“The constitutionally protected freedom of speech and of associations are rights that are primarily exercised in institutions of higher learning. The youth, particularly students in colleges and universities should be exposed to this right,” the solons said in their explanatory note.

The lawmakers stressed the measure seeks to provide further safeguards for the exercise of the cherished constitutional rights of free speech and association by students in institutions of higher learning by terminating government financial assistance to certain government-funded programs or activities received by such educational institutions for violation of these rights.

Based on the measure, no student attending an institution of higher education on a full or part-time basis shall, on the basis of protected speech and association, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination or of official sanction under any educational program, activity, or division directly or indirectly receiving financial assistance by the state.

The proposed measure also stated no funds shall be made available to an educational program, activity or division of any institution of higher education which the secretary finds, after notice and opportunity for a hearing, to have violated any provision of the law.