APO raises concern on press freedom during Oblation Run
MANILA, Philippines — Members of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity held their traditional Oblation Run and carried the theme freedom of expression and press freedom in the Philippines.
Fraternity’s spokesperson Malkolm Nordstrom Samson said that the issue surrounding press freedom is “an age-old problem.”
“We experience it in Martial Law with censorship, years before there was also censorship in some of the administrations prior to Marcos. Then afterwards, we’re still experiencing it now,” Samson said in a statement issued on Friday.
The Philippines was under Martial Law from 1972 until 1981 or under the presidency of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
This year’s Oblation Run, wherein APO fratmen run naked around campus, focused on the country’s problem on censorship and curtailment of press freedom.
The fraternity members brought placards without anything written on it to symbolize the country’s problem on freedom of expression.
The runners also covered their masks with electric tapes to signify the government action to silence the media.
“Ngayon ang balak naming gawin, magfocus siya sa katahimikan. Bakit? Yung press mismo, hindi na nakakapagsalita dahil sinusupil na sila mismo ng administrasyon. So yun yung nagiging problema,” Samson explained.
Aside from the innocent lives of the individuals killed, the press during the Marcos era was also heavily censured.
“So how do you repackage something that told over and over again? Para sa ibang Pilipino, gasgas na plaka lang yan, pero problema siya na kailangan nating komprontahin,” he added.
According to a report of the Southeast Asia Media Freedom that was published by the International Federation of Journalists, the Philippines is among the countries in Southeast Asia that were dubbed as one of the worst places for journalists due to threat of impunity, safety, and censorship.
“[It] has fueled a culture of impunity which has emboldened those seeking to silence the press,” it added.
With this, the fraternity called on the public to remain critical of the “threats” in the democracy in the county and encouraged them to speak out for the betterment of the nation.
“We call on the Filipino people to continue being vigilant and critical against threats to our democracy, be informed about and engaged with the plight of different sectors in society. This is the bayanihan – solidarity – that we need to live out,” the fraternity said in a statement. /jpv
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