Will independent media practitioners get a good treatment under the presidency of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.?
Labor leader and presidential candidate Leody de Guzman has warned journalists not to expect any preferential treatment from Bongbong’s administration. Carlos Conde, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, has written that the incoming president’s “contempt for the media could pose serious risks for democracy in the Philippines,” adding that “ignoring critical publications is bad enough, but Marcos Jr. will have tools at his disposal to muzzle the media in a manner that the elder Marcos, no supporter of press freedom, could only dream of.”
Their comments came after the questions from Rappler’s Lian Buan were ignored by Bongbong’s spokesperson, lawyer Vic Rodriguez. The queries were about a pending contempt order against Marcos Jr. at a United States court and what will happen to President Rodrigo Duterte’s 2017 declaration that sets September 21 (the date of Martial Law’s proclamation) as the national day of protest. Rodriguez did not respond, instead said “Next question.”
De Guzman’s running mate and left-leaning politician Walden Bello has said Buan’s inquiries were valid. He further said there are many questions that the incoming Marcos administration must answer. Will there be a name change of the country’s foremost international airport? Duterte Youth Partylist has filed a bill to revert Ninoy Aquino International Airport back to its original name, Manila International Airport (MIA). Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., the arch-political nemesis of Marcos Sr., was assassinated on MIA’s tarmac on Aug. 21, 1983. Ninoy’s death is commemorated annually as a national non-working day after Republic Act 2956 was signed into law in 2004 by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The same party-list also filed a bill to replace the faces on the P500 bill—the faces of Ninoy and his wife, the late President Corazon Aquino.
The other question that must be answered by Marcos Jr.’s camp is what will happen to the annual commemoration of the 1986 Edsa Revolution, which ousted Bongbong’s dictator father and exiled his family.
These are legitimate questions that the second Marcos administration must answer. Independent journalists need not seek preferential treatment from the incoming presidency—all they must do is seek answers in this highly polarized society and know, not bend, the truth; then tell them, write them.