Commentary

The necessity of a mass media critical to the government

When you rejoice the fall of the voices critical of those in power, you are inviting those in power to continue stifling voices they don’t like. One day, they would not like your voice too.

A mass media critical of the government, even adversarial to it, is a necessity in a vibrant democracy. Sometimes the mass media do go overbound, but these are few and far in between, and do not distract us from the reality that the press, broadcast stations, and online outfits such as Rappler (1) provide a valuable and necessary service to the public; (2) discourage abuses by government officials and employees through their shaping of public opinion; and (3) sometimes would be the last resort of a disenchanted public whose grievances are not redressed by the government.

I have a firm faith in the capacity of the Filipino people to go beyond Duterte’s hatred of a free press critical of him and his incompetent administration. As I have mentioned elsewhere, it would be all downhill from here. Perhaps more media outlets would be shut down; maybe Facebook, Twitter and (China-style) even Wikipedia would be blocked or restricted. But we will wake up from this, because we have shown it to be possible during the Marcos regime, and we can do it again. What I hope though is that those who would survive these dark days and be responsible for returning us to the light do more what those responsible in the return to democracy in 1986:

1) decriminalization of libel
2) greater protection to journalists in the form of specialized law enforcement units dealing with threats and murders of journalists
3) changes in criminal law to make it aggravating to commit crimes against journalists on account of their being journalists

But of course, the most important thing is for the teaching of better critical thinking among the citizenry in general and the voters in general, so that never again would we elect the likes of Duterte, Arroyo, the younger and weaker Pimentel who is but a boy compared to his father, Alvarez, Marcos, etc.

For now, we will hold the line. God bless Rappler, God bless everyone.

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