New Year 2021: Fight for genuine press freedom continues
The current state of the Philippine press is in dire straits. The watchdogs of society are being attacked because of its significant role in exposing the ill problems of government — the unjustifiable arrest of journalists Frenchiemae Cumpio of Eastern Vista and Lady Ann Salem of Manila Today, the rampant red-tagging against alternative and mainstream media and campus publications, the shutdown of media giant ABS-CBN, as well as the 19 slain journalists are only many of the attacks against the fourth estate under the Duterte regime. Moreover, enablers of the status quo have been vilifying and instigating measures to curtail the freedom of the press — besieging media outfits and practitioners that are deemed critical to the regime but who are only exposing the truth out of the ills of the government.
The increasing number of extrajudicial killings of human rights defenders, peace advocates, journalists, and activists in the Philippines amidst an alarming global health crisis underscores the urgent call to unite against the repressive conditions under the Duterte regime.
Duterte’s Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 puts everyone critical of this regime in peril. The principle of presumption of innocence, right to due process, and freedom of expression and speech are in grave danger under this law. As the Supreme Court has finally set oral arguments for the 37 petitions against the terror law on January 19, 2021, the alliance of campus press will remain vigilant than ever.
The College Editors Guild of the Philippines, the oldest, broadest, and only-existing alliance of tertiary student publications in the Asia-Pacific region, bravely stands to fight Duterte’s tyrannical rule. We will not be cowered to cheap fear-mongering tactics to be silenced. We vow to fight as a growing resistance against Duterte’s dictatorship. We continue to hold Duterte and his cohorts accountable for all their crimes against humanity.
This 2021, we vow to dauntlessly fight and seek justice for journalists who have died because of state-sponsored killings and victims of harassment from state forces. We promise to release our colleagues Lady Ann Salem and Frenchiemae Cumpio, and all other political prisoners who were illegally detained over trumped-up charges and endlessly fight to bring back ABS-CBN in the air. And it is our pledge to all campus journalists to be more critical, fearless, and unapologetic amidst red-tagging and political vilification.
Now, more than ever, we are once again making our voice and stance resound that will see the Duterte regime’s despotism and tyranny to its end. In these crucial times, it is only imperative that we, campus journalists and the Filipino people, become part of history by taking a stand, speaking out, and joining the fight of the Filipino people. We will continue to uphold our dictum, “to write is already to choose” and be the vanguards of people’s struggle for truth, freedom, and justice — the fight for genuine press freedom continues.
Ngayong 2021, higit na sumulong, sumulat, manindigan, at magmulat!