Tuesday, 3 May 2016

"Safeguarding Press Freedom and its yearness to Seek Truth from Facts"

"Safeguarding Press Freedom 
and its yearness to Seek Truth from Facts"

(ramblings from a statement made by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
in commemoration of International Press Freedom Day)

Well, at first, this person is ought to admit that regardless of having a law allegedly trying to protect freedom and welfare of its own citizens, it is inconveniently true that the Philippines is the fourth country known for killings and various threats towards media practitioners, especially those of Journalists.

Since the dawn of democracy in 1986, the country that tried to bring back its past glories of having a freest press in Asia was and is marred by issues involving harassments, killings, various forms of extrajudicial actions that caused harm, if not death, of those who seek truth or those who consistently oppose policies that is contrary to the law's desire to defend and ensure the well being of the people. In fact, according to Reporters Sans Frontiers, having it recently noted in its latest World Press Freedom Index, that the Philippines still maintained its dismal showing on the Index, placing 138th out of 180 countries, a slight improvement over its 141st ranking in 2014, while its score deteriorated, sliding 3.47 points from 2014’s 41.9 to 44.6 last year. 

And people does not care about it. One example of a question coming from them would be "Who cares about journalists? Those people who spent time making articles for the paper, radio, television, and in the internet?" What a strange question coming from those who think all about their perception of "happiness", of "convenience" especially amidst seeing such inconvenient truths. Sorry to say, but as the intentionally aloof chose to be that way, those who are truly concerned would say that the impunity with which media killings and extrajudicial executions in general continue to be committed has led to more journalists arming themselves, if not succumb themselves to self-censorship or at worse, corruption.

But again, regardless of the freedom attained, there are many journalists, media practitioners who are killed in the name of order if not those scared of exposing an inconvenient truth. To think that In 25 years, from 1990 to 2015, the International Federation of Journalists has recorded 146 media killings in the Philippines, or an average of six journalists and/or media workers killed annually. If to take out the Ampatuan massacre victims, that places the annual average at four. Whether that is six or four, the issue is the persistence of these extra-judicial killings and the fact that only about 10 of these cases have led to convictions of perpetrators, although no mastermind has been pinned down.
So far, 31 journalists and media practitioners were killed under President Aquino’s watch. And others are being threatened as such. With the system intentionally blocked the way to have a Freedom of Information (FOI) law has further muddled the environment for press freedom and freedom of expression. And contrary to what President Aquino’s campaign pledges six years ago for more freedoms as well as transparency in governance, rather everyone saw yet again the death of FOI legislation in Congress that is under the firm grip of the system via the administration and its political allies.
On the other hand, the system rather favoured the passage of the "Anti Cyber-Crime Law" that includes a cyber libel provision. The law, specifically its controversial nature enshrined in those provisions, was passed few years ago amidst popular opposition.

And despite all such promises, of so-called actions meant to be done by the law, did it defend those who expose and oppose unjust policies from those who harass in case of Ellen Tordesillas and Raffy Santos for their work on reporting about the campaign activities and attendant political issues of a presidential aspirant?

Anyways, regardless of all the risks, of threats, it is a duty to truth from facts, and this is what the media practitioners swore and doing for, same as those who truly trying to seek and truly understand.

We urge the people to join hand in hand, in vigilance because press freedom does not belong to the practitioners but to the people.