ANTONIO ZUMEL CENTER FOR PRESS FREEDOM
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo blames what she calls the historical enemies of the democratic state to justify her Proclamation 1017 declaring a state of emergency. In doing so, she tramples upon democracy. And yes, she blames the media for "magnifiying" the claims of these historical enemies of the state.
While stating that Proclamation 1017 does not include arrests, the police and military have begun arresting leaders of the opposition.
While declaring respect for civil and democratic rights of the people, she has ordered the violent dispersal of the people exercising their freedom of speech and assembly.
It will serve President Arroyo well to remember the fate of her predecessors who put their, their families' and their cabal's interest first before the interest of the country and the Filipino people.
Curtailing freedoms enshrined in the constitution will not solve the political and economic crisis. It will only exacerbate the crisis. Therefore, we demand the full respect of these freedoms including the right of media to bring the truth to the people.
Media should be allowed to operate and make available to the people the news and the different views on the events in the Philippines. Harassments, threats and arrests of media practitioners and personnel are clear violations of press freedom and should be condemned and defied.
The threat of Ronald Solis, chairman of the National Telecommunications Commission, that the government can close down a television or radio station during a state of emergency, the raids on newspaper offices, detention and interrogation of journalists, columnists and publishers are a vile portent of things to come.
Thus we call on our colleagues in the media to be vigilant and courageous in the face of any threats to curtail press freedom. The Filipino people have the right to be truly informed.