By Marivir R. Montebon
I will always be vigilant. I don’t want another dictatorship. Press freedom has to be protected as media responsibility has to be held up high. It is a precious part of justice and progress.
Going viral right now on social and mainstream media is the pronouncement of Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte that the spate of killings of journalists in the Philippines is a result of their own corrupt ways.
As a media practitioner, that felt more than just a dagger. It sent signals that the dark days of dictatorship may be back once again.
The truth is, corruption in media is rampant in the Philippines. There are abuses to press freedom. Money talks. But that is one side of the truth. The other side is that there are journalists who bravely expose the truth and are harassed or killed because of doing their duty.
But when the president-elect tilts his message only towards media killings as a result of malfunction of ethics, he misses the larger picture of his own claim. Who pays and can afford to pay media hacks? – likely the same ones with political or business interests who have the money. It is all connected. They all dance to the music of corruption.
I hope the president-elect won’t harp on media corruption as basis for a press freedom clamp down. The press is the fourth state. It is landmark of democracy. When a country shifts from being democratic to dictatorial, the media is the first institution to be shut down. Such was the case of the Philippines when Pres. Marcos imposed Martial Law. The Free Press bid goodbye in its last editorial. The cloak of darkness ensued because there was no mirror to which society could look itself at.
Then the nation awakens when the military atrocities went off hand and the foreign debt ballooned. I was a Martial Law baby, growing up in sheltered modest life but in college, the protest marches on the street was a big revelation that all was not well. Eventually, the Filipinos toppled Marcos. But we failed to be responsible enough to guard our freedom and the things to change for the better.
Now, I will always be vigilant. I don’t want another dictatorship. Press freedom has to be protected as media responsibility has to be held up high. It is a precious part of justice and progress.
Expectations are high for the Davao City mayor now President-elect to be able to shake the drug cartel and massive corruption in government. But people are skeptical of his allegiance with the Marcoses and his plan to bring back death penalty.
Among his early pronouncements was to have the late Pres. Marcos buried in the national heroes cemetery as a way to ‘heal the country’. Of late, I cried foul against it, like many of my friends, many of whom are Martial Law babies. He better lead in recovering the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses and indemnifying victims of Martial Law instead of burying him in the heroes’ cemetery. That is the way to justice and healing. On my Facebook shout-out, I said, we better please stop making a fool of ourselves. (Photo by Arlene Solis Chua)