CLARK FREEPORT -- “Truth stays alive because there is a free press that guards it.”
Thus said Commission on Human Rights (CHR) spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia on the recent incidents that undermine press freedom, adding that all that we treasure and value are anchored on truth.
Media speaks truth to power in the form of factual reportage, well-intentioned criticism, and/or dissenting perspectives, de Guia said.
A government that genuinely serves the people would view free media as essential to social good instead of labeling it as anti-government, she said.
She added that the commission has repeatedly pointed out the growing trend of harassment and intimidation experienced by individuals and groups including media, which are vocal about their criticism on certain government policies and actions.
The “mistaken arrest” of journalist Margarita Valle raise similar fear and doubts given her active advocacy on human rights, the CHR official said.
She claimed that it is alarming that due process was not observed in Valle’s arrest.
“We reiterate utmost compliance to the requirements of the Constitution in carrying out arrest warrants,” de Guia said.
She added that there are no excuses to circumvent the standards enumerated in the bill of rights especially by those duty-bound to uphold it.
“Similarly, we express deep concern with the House of Representatives’ freezing of the ABS-CBN’s franchise bill. We note that the President has expressed his desire to not renew the media company’s franchise,” De Guia said.
The services provided by ABS-CBN, alongside other media networks, cater to the Filipino people in numerous ways that are beyond the whim of politics. If the network has committed any violation, it must be tackled through due process, according to her.
Non-renewal can be tantamount to shutting down the network. If an entire media giant would be toppled down due to political caprice, it could signal the beginning of a bleaker state of press freedom in the country and a catapult to the wave of previous assaults to media, de Guia said.
“The freedoms we possess can be fleeting without the information and education enabled by free press. In these challenging times, let us stand with the fourth estate that has steadfastly torched the light of truth by which our freedoms are anchored,” she added.