‘Preserve press freedom amid attacks on media’ — veteran journalists

Photo by Maria Charisse Ann G. Refuerzo

Veteran media practitioners called for campus journalists’ full support in preserving press freedom amid attacks on media by the Duterte administration during the Black Friday Protest held last Jan. 19.

Rappler Managing Editor and UST alumna Glenda Gloria urged campus journalists to fight for press freedom, saying members of the campus press were never too young to be fearless and critical of the Duterte administration.

“[The youth] needs to strengthen their resolve as campus journalists because soon they will be reporters. […] there is no better training ground for courage and to be an active and critical campus journalist at this difficult time,” Gloria told the Varsitarian.

Danilo Arao, a journalism professor at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, called on journalism schools such as UST to heighten the protest for media freedom.

“The challenge here is not only in the University of the Philippines where I am teaching journalism but also to students in journalism schools with a Center of Development title to voice out the culture of protest in upholding press freedom,” Arao said.

The UST Journalism Society released a statement last Jan. 18, saying they would continue to promote press freedom amid current administration’s “shakedown of media organizations critical of government.”

“The UST Journalism Society, as a voice of inspiring Thomasian journalists, will continue to speak out against any attempt by those in power to curtail press freedom, suppress dissent and silence veritas, the truth,” the organization said.

It said Rappler’s constitutional ban was a “mere pretext to muzzle its news coverage.”

Rappler’s license to operate was scrapped by the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) for supposedly violating constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership last Jan. 15.

The 29-page decision of SEC cited Article XVI of Section 11 of the Constitution, which says the ownership and management of mass media shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations, cooperatives or associations, wholly owned and managed by Filipino citizens.

SEC cited Rappler’s 2015 receipt of funds from foreign investor Omidyar Network, owned by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

Lawyer Melencio Sta. Maria, legal counsel of TV5, said the media’s role as the Fourth Estate should be safeguarded by all Filipinos.

“Huwag tayong titigil mag-ingay at huwag titigil makalimot sa issue ng press freedom. Kapag nawala na ang kalayaan, diyan tayo magsisisi,” Sta. Maria said in his speech during the protest.

The Black Friday Protest was organized by Let’s Organize for Democracy and Intergity, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Altermidya Network and the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines.

Police said 200 people joined the protest at the Boy Scout Circle in Quezon City, Manila.


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