‘Democracy requires a free press,’ says U2’s Bono
MANILA, Philippines — U2 frontman Bono on Tuesday expressed his “deep conviction” about journalism, saying that a democracy “requires a free press.”
In a press conference following the launch of a blood-by-drone initiative between the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) and automated logistics company Zipline, a reporter asked Bono if he was planning to meet with President Rodrigo Duterte.
The reporter referenced The Beatles’ 1966 visit to the Philippines during which they reportedly snubbed then First Lady Imelda Marcos who wanted to meet them.
While Bono said that he would want to focus on the positive aspects of the initiative, he said that he was not planning to meet with Duterte.
“President Duterte is very popular, he doesn’t need me on his side, and as it happens I have a very deep conviction about journalism,” Bono said.
“I probably would have been a journalist if I wasn’t a singer. And so the safety of journalists is very important, and I think a democracy requires a free press. I find some journalists to be a total pain in the arse, but I am really glad they are there,” he added.
This response was met with cheers from the crowd.
Bono said he had been a member of rights group Amnesty International all his life.
“I take it very seriously, and I think human rights are critical,” Bono said.
Bono arrived in the Philippines on Wednesday for his first-ever concert here.
In 2018, a report of the Southeast Asia Media Freedom published by the International Federation of Journalists dubbed the Philippines as among the seven worst countries in Southeast Asia for journalists due to the threat of impunity, safety, and censorship.
One of the most notorious cases in the country, the Maguindanao massacre, is deemed as the world’s deadliest single attack on members of the media as 32 of the 58 those killed were journalists.
The verdict on the case will be released on Dec. 19.
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