Press Release
May 3, 2018

PRESS FREEDOM IN DUTERTE's TIME and FAKE NEWS - A Statement for World Press Freedom Day by Sen. Leila M. De Lima

Today, we pay tribute to the men and women who have dedicated their lives to serving as the messengers of truth: the members of the press. Reporters, camera men, and the crew behind news teams, all of whom work day in and day out, taking risks to keep us informed of the state of the country and of the world.

Even before President Duterte came into power, unfortunately, our country has been known to be a dangerous place for journalists in the same league with Iraq and Afghanistan, both embroiled in civil strife for decades now.

Many Filipino journalists made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of truth and accountability of those in power and yet just a few years later, they have become nameless and nearly forgotten. Who among us could still remember media persons killed because they exposed corruption and wrongdoings like Dr. Gerry Ortega of Palawan and Marlene Esperat of Sultan Kudarat in Mindanao? Or has anyone of us still recall even just one name of those journalists killed in the infamous Maguindanao Massacre? This sad reality contributes to impunity that further endangers the lives of truth seekers, especially under the current administration.

Sa katunayan, lalo pong tumindi ang pag-atake sa media nang maluklok si Duterte na allergic sa mga kritisismo na dapat sana'y normal lang sa isang demokrasya. Tingnan na lang po natin ang ginawang panggigipit sa Rappler, ang pagbabawal kay Pia Ranada at Maria Ressa na makatuntong sa Malakanyang at makapag-cover sa mga aktibidad ng Pangulo.

Dobleng sampal din po sa propesyon ng pamamahayag ang ginagawang paggamit ng administrasyong ito sa fake news upang linlangin ang mamamayan at usigin ang mga tumututol tulad po ng ginawang pagsira at paghusga sa aking integridad.

Fake news undermines the integrity and tears the fibers of the journalism profession. In the process of peddling lies, purveyors of fake news have exerted efforts to discredit established media outfits and personalities so that their lies will prevail.

By distorting the truth, Duterte's troll army has managed to project their master as a benevolent but disciplinarian father of the nation but in truth, he is an authoritarian ruler aspiring to be a dictator for life. Social media mercenaries were also instrumental in this government's controversial programs such as the war on drugs and its attacks on human rights and democratic institutions like the Commission on Human Rights and the Supreme Court.

Ngayong araw, muli nating pagnilayan ang kahalagahan ng malayang pamamahayag sa isang malusog na demokrasya. Responsible journalism allows people to make informed opinions on issues, guides their participation in public decisions and address immediate problems and strategic concerns that determine the fate of our nation.

As we join the world in commemorating World Press Freedom Day, we join the fight against media repression and against the proliferation of fake news.

Lies, manipulated harassments are the main weapons of fascists and dictators but in the long run, they are no match to truth and democracy.

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