Gutoc, Diokno call on gov’t to protect press freedom
MANILA, Philippines — The government must not allow the Philippines to plunge into the “Dark Ages of press freedom,” opposition senatorial bets said on World Press Freedom Day on Friday.
Marawi civic leader Samira Gutoc urged President Rodrigo Duterte to protect press freedom as people need access to truthful reporting as the May 13 polls draw near.
“I appeal to the president not to plunge the country in the Dark Ages of press freedom. The people need access to the truth if they are to exercise their right to suffrage, their right to vote in the next elections. If this fails, then another pillar of democracy falls,” Gutoc said in a statement.
“The people deserve the truth and unhampered access to a media that is not cowed and strained by threats and intimidation, especially from the governments. Press freedom is one of the pillars of a vibrant democracy, but if the press is under heavy attack, then democracy fails with it,” she added.
Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, on the other hand, said the Philippines should not return to the past when press freedom was under attack.
“Wag na natin hayaang bumalik ang bayan natin sa madilim na panahon na iyon ng pananakot at pang-aapi. Alam kong hindi papayag ang henerasyong ito ng mga mamamahayag na mangyari yon,” Diokno said in separate statement.
(Let us not allow our country to go back to that period of fear and repression. I know this generation of journalists will not allow it to happen.)
Diokno cited the killing of journalist Primitivo Mijares, who wrote the book “The Conjugal Dictatorship,” that revealed the truth behind the dictatorship of former President Ferdinand Marcos during the martial law.
“Pinaghihinalaang pinapatay din si Mijares, dahil naglakas-loob siyang sabihin ang katotohanan tungkol sa diktaduryang Marcos,” he said.
(There were speculations that he was killed because he dared to speak the truth about the Marcos dictatorship.)
Press freedom under attack
Gutoc decried fake news, the killing of journalists, and the “historical revisionism” of Martial Law which she said are proof that the press is under attack.
“Lantaran na po ang pagnanakaw sa katotohanan. Andiyan ang maya’t mayang fake news, ang pagdedemanda at panggigipit sa mga media institutions, ang pagpapakulong at pagpatay sa mga taga-media, at ang historical revisionism na ipinapakalat tungkol sa Martial Law noong panahon mga Marcos,” Gutoc said.
(There is a brazen attack against the truth. There is fake news, harassment of media institutions, the jailing of members of the press and historical revisionism about Martial Law and the Marcos years.)
“Lahat ng ito ay atake sa press freedom. Lahat ng ito ay pagnanakaw sa katotohanan (These are all forms of attack against press freedom and the truth),” she added.
Protect the truth
Diokno and Gutoc also called on the public to protect the truth and fight for press freedom.
“Katotohanan ang lakas ng taumbayan. Kaya nananawagan ako sa ating mga kababayan: protektahan natin ang katotohanan. At binabalaan ko lahat ng nagbabalak na supilin ang katotohanan: nakita na natin yan sa kasaysayan, at kahit kailan hindi kayo magtatagumpay,” Diokno said.
(The truth will give us strength. So I’m calling on our fellow Filipinos to join hands to protect the truth. I am warning those who will suppress the truth. We’ve seen that happen before. You will never succeed.)
“But there is a reason to celebrate World Press Freedom Day. Let this be an occasion to stand against impunity and attacks to press freedom. Let us continue to defend it, para po sa kapakanan ng ating mga kababayan at sa kapakanan ng ating bansa (for the benefit of our fellow Filipinos and our country),” the civic leader said. /ee
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