As the world commemorates the World Press Freedom Day today, Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has paid tribute to the hardworking members of the press who have dedicated their lives to serve as the messengers of truth.
De Lima, the staunch critic of the government’s war on drugs, said the media practitioners, especially the Filipino journalists who made sacrifices in pursuit of truth, should always be remembered and serve as an inspiration to many.
“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,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 297
Calling into mind several media persons killed for exposing wrongdoings like Dr. Gerry Ortega of Palawan and Marlene Esperat of Sultan Kudarat in Mindanao, De Lima said, “this sad reality contributes to impunity that further endangers the lives of truth seekers, especially under the current administration.”
The World Press Freedom Day, which is now on its 25th year, was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1993 “in recognition of the fundamental human right to free expression and press freedom.”
De Lima, a former justice secretary, lamented how attacks against media practitioners have worsened under the administration of President Duterte who is not open for legitimate criticisms from some quarters.
“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,” she added.
By peddling lies and spreading false content on social media, De Lima said the President’s troll army has managed to project him as a benevolent but disciplinarian leader, thereby concealing his real plan to be a “dictator for life.”
“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,” she said.
Ultimately, De Lima asked the public to join the fight against media repression and against the proliferation of fake news, saying “lies, manipulated harassments are the main weapons of fascists and dictators but in the long run, they are no match to truth and democracy.”