Post mortem: Press Freedom Day

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By Nef Luczon


Monday, May 5, 2014

THE culmination of the Cagayan de Oro leg on the Mindanao-wide observation of the World Press Freedom Day last Saturday ws signified by the participants and guests signing their names in a banner that shouts: “Uphold Press Freedom.”

Before anything else, my gratitude to the Department of Technology Communication Management of Mindanao University of Science and Technology especially to Ms. Angeli Pizarro-Monsanto, the department chair, Dr. Maristela B. Sy, the moderator of The Trailblazer student publication, and of course the TCM students led by Marvelous Bencio and JM Valdehueza.

Same gratitude to the Development Communication department of Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan, especially to Dr. Ma. Theresa“Mayette” Rivera, the department chair Shiella C. Balbutin and their DevComm students.


Now back to the discussion at hand, freedom of the press is ever and always an uphill climb in a country such as the Philippines.

The Philippines is said to be the most liberated when it comes to free press and expression in Southeast Asia, however such impression has been subjected to abuse and threats whether from the inside and outside the media industry.

As issues such as the Freedom of Information and Cybercrime Prevention Law are crucial to the future of the Philippine free press, broad discussions continue, as they get complicated due to many factors that arise when they are laid down on the table.

This holds true to the situation of media killings before and after Martial Law, and the culture of impunity as people implicated in killing media workers and journalists remain elusive from the folds of justice.

“May 3 has been declared by the United Nations General Assembly to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

That’s one statement that the Philippine government barely understands when it maintains that libel is a criminal offense and more to the cyber libel provision under the Anti-Cybercrime Law after the majority of the justices at the Supreme Court decided it constitutional.

Even the FOI Bill already passed in the Senate, the House of Representatives is still playing it hard to get, and now they want to get even with the Right to Reply Bill and the Magna Carta for Journalists.

Time and again, the press is the fourth estate in a democratic country, and for the government to dictate what the journalists or the media industry do through a magna carta defeats the purpose of having media as wholly owned by the citizens.

Such a pity, indeed, not to mention that sometimes upholding a free press in the country and abiding to the highest ethical standards could mean a vocation of not receiving just compensations and treatment of the media workers working in different media platforms.

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Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 06, 2014.


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