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Remove the gag

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Remove the gag

Saturday, April 04, 2015

A COUPLE of decades ago, we were said to have won back democracy. We thus have the voice to be heard and the right to be listened to. We were free to talk, and to know. But are we, truly free?

Five years ago, 58 people died in which 34 were media workers. The Maguindanao massacre was called the most gruesome event for journalists in history. Five years ago, 34 media workers were killed to keep their mouth shut and their hands tied permanently. Five years ago, being a journalist became the most dangerous job in the world.

Journalism was never an easy task. The responsibility that journalists carry on their shoulders is as heavy as what Atlas carries on his back.

Journalists are messengers of truth. They are the ones that tell people about what is happening around them.

Journalists are the bridge between what should be and what really is.

For decades, we were under the impression that we are free. After all, hasn't the birth of different forms of media the signal that we are entering a new age? But, five years ago, we realized that this freedom is but an illusion.

The truth cannot always be revealed. In the end, those who don't want the truth to be told will do anything just to make sure the truth doesn’t get out. The unfortunate victims? Journalists and the people around them.

We have always been aware that journalism is a perilous job. Telling the truth for the common good may not be in the interest of those who have the means. But that's the reality. Journalists live not for the pay, nor the publicity. Journalists live to tell the truth, even if sometimes a story is worth their lives.

Five years ago, journalists were gagged, threatened and killed. Five years ago, we were afraid. Five years is enough. Five years is more than enough.

Remove the gag, stand up to the threats and death will only happen if we succumb to indifference. (Precious Z. Domalaon)

-o0o-

These essays are students’ reflections on media freedom and suppression. Precious is a student of Ateneo de Davao University.

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