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In Focus: Why We Must Defend Press Freedom Now More Than Ever

In Focus: Why We Must Defend Press Freedom Now More Than Ever

 

 

By Ethan Siat
Chalk Campus Correspondent

The state of press freedom has taken a hit recently as news arose of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revoking online news site Rappler's registration forcing the organization to cease operations.

The reason for the SEC's desicion comes from allegedly violating constitutional restricitions on ownership of mass media with Rappler being financially supported by foreign entity Omidyar Network. Rappler swiftly rebutted the commission by the debunking its claims as its foreign investor does not manage their activities thus no violation has occured.

The order has garnered mixed reactions from the public. Pro-administration bloggers, supporters, and trolls, who have persistently criticized Rappler, rejoiced at the SEC's ruling. On the other hand, numerous journalist groups and other news organizations took offense and deemed it as a grave threat to the freedom of the press.

The youth is also active in speaking up on this issue, with different organizations and campus papers releasing their statements on their social media platforms. The College Editors Guild of the Philippines has said the "attack on the press is an attack to the Filipino people." The organization encouraged fellow journalists to combat further repression of press freedom by standing in unity.

Ateneo de Manila University's The Guidon condemns the administration for its "latest act of intimidation and suppression of the country's free press." The publication has also expressed solidarity as the key to resistance.

The University of the Philippines College of Mass Communications (UP CMC) has noted resemblance to the opression of the press during the Marcos regime. "The disruption of avenues for dissent such as shutting down media institutions which does nothing but further expose social realities in accordance to truthfulness and accountability is an attack to journalists and all attacks against the press is an attack against democracy," said the UP CMC student council.

Despite Rappler's uncertain future, the organization vowed to continue its role to purvey the truth. What is clear as day, however, is the harrasment to further stifle those who dare to speak out. Here, we list down a few points on why press freedom is crucial now more than ever.

The proliferation of fake news in major social media avenues has since been a poignant issue that the country is currently facing. The takedown of responsible and critical organizations like Rappler will only further allow these bearers of misinformed news to push their biased agenda.

The free-flowing display of various information without excessive intervention by the government helps people to discern and form intelligent responses. It encourages us to speak out and create unified movements to ultimately stop these oppressive situations.

Once people can form their own opinons and are able to voice them out, it cascades to discourse where we can all share our thoughts and attain a better understanding of each other. As in any situation, communication is key to unity which we, as people of this country, need to constantly strive for.

Putting emphasis on certain issues helps bring to light the positive change that our nation might need.  The press can spark these flames by being agents of transparency and truth. Once the people can discern what must be acted on, we can all move forward and push for what needs to be changed for the preservation of our rights and the betterment of our country.

Silence is the most fatal weapon the government could use on its people. The concept of democracy is lost with this harmful desicion by the administration. We should take this assault on our right to free press as a call to action. Let us stand behind Rappler and other responsible and legitimate news organizations to combat this form of oppression. Let our voices be heard, and show them that we will never be held down.

ALSO READ: In Focus: This 14-Year-Old St. Scho Student Made It To TIME's 'Most Influential Teens Of 2017'

Banner Photography from Unsplash

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