Tomorrow is World Press Freedom Day and there is no more opportune time to highlight the contradictions between the name of what we are supposed to celebrate and the real happenings in the flesh.
This year, several killings and harassments of media practitioners have already been documented. Last February, a photographer and correspondent of the Philippine Daily Inquirer were hit by policemen while covering the protest action in Davao City of the Typhoon Pablo victims. Also, criminal libel continues to threaten the work of several journalists in the country. Last March, two Southern Luzon correspondents of The Philippine Star and Pilipino Star Ngayon were charged with a libel case by a gold trader from Camarines Norte. In the campus press, the former Editor-in-Chief of UP Baguio Outcrop continues to face a legal battle because of an allegedly libelous lampoon article that came out during her term.
The murder of Gerry Ortega, an environmentalist and journalist from Palawan, continues to be unresolved up to now. The same lack of justice applies to the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre, 30 of which were journalists and their families.
As we celebrate World Press Freedom Day tomorrow, let us bear in mind the grim happenings that sadly taint our cause of celebration. More importantly, let us continue our fight for a more genuine Press Freedom all over the world and for a Press that will not be harassed, intimidated, charged legally, surveilled, abducted and murdered for what they write and what principles they uphold.
Ultimately, the Press is all of us; the Press is not just the people behind the newspaper articles and the news programs; the Press also includes the people who are the producers, consumers and analysts of information that is shown in the media.
Ivan Emil Labayne, 09268105915