Thursday, August 28, 2008

An Open Letter To Gloria Arroyo On Press Freedom

President Gloria Arroyo
Madame President:

You have warned against those who exercise press freedom without responsibility.

In a recent speech during the centennial celebration of “The Free Press” magazine, you declared:"Freedom in the hands of such as these, who want the freedom without the responsibility, degenerates into a callous license to aspire to little more than gossipy headlines and inflated circulation numbers, no matter what cost must be paid in the debasement of public discourse."

I find it very disturbing that the President of a democratic government will make this kind of warning particularly in the context of the current environment in which Filipino journalists have to operate.

From the first days of your administration, you have consistently taken steps to tighten the government's hold on information and limit public scrutiny of its activities.

For a few years, the Philippines had been tagged the “most murderous” country for journalists and international press freedom organizations still consider it the second most dangerous country next to war-torn Iraq.

Madame President, it is good to remember what Walter Lippmann, the 20th century American columnist said;"A free press is not a privilege, but an organic necessity in a great society."

In fact, it is your obligation as our leader to reassure our journalists that debate on public issues should be robust and wide open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic and sometimes unpleasant sharp attacks on government and public officials. That’s the essence of a true democracy!

"The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." (Thomas Jefferson, 1787)

Is that asking too much from an administration that is so obsessed with secrecy?


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

...hello po Madam president pagpaumanhin nyo po ang pag liham ko sa inyo. isa po akong OFW galing po me sa dubai. at nakita ko ang kalagayan at paghihirap ng mga pilipino duon. pero mas pinili parin nila ang manatili doon lalo na ang mga visit visa,yes, i know na merong mga visit na pinay na naligaw ng landas pero hindi lahat may mga matino rin . nakita ko sa t.v na naghigpit sa dubai sa pagexit nakaawa sila sana mabigyang pansin niyo po sila sana mapayagan uli silang magexit. nung nasa dubai pa ako naging issue doon na ang mga visit ay 2X exit nalang pang 3 sa pinas na narinig ko sa kanila mas ok na rin yun atleast kahit papaano ay kumita sila at nabawi nila ang pamasahe at visa.hindi katulad ngaun wala nang exit. napakahirap nung ganun..SALAMAT PO!