License to chill

Sonny Trillanes, Mocha Uson chat after Senate hearing
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Whether they’re in the opposition or administration side, the distinguished senators of this endangered Republic, who’re otherwise hopelessly fractious, share one thing: their hatred for “fake news” — and a consequent, irrepressible urge to penalize its disseminators.

That’s what last week’s hearings on the subject led by the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media chaired by Senator Grace Poe suggests, among other equally troublesome implications on press freedom, free expression, and the little that’s left of Philippine democracy.

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Defending freedom

Duterte and reporters
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The authoritarian path the Duterte administration is taking imposes on the Philippine press and media, as public service institutions, the duty to more vigilantly defend that freedom and to sharpen and enhance its monitoring and coverage of the regime. The press has to provide the citizenry the meaningful information it needs for it to arrive at an intelligent understanding of the reality of the present dangers to press freedom and to everyone else’s liberties.

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Killing hope

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The killing of young people, minors and children that have been blamed on the police of the Duterte regime is not without precedent.

The same atrocities were committed by the then PC-INP (Philippine Constabulary Integrated National Police) and the military of which it was then a part during the Marcos terror regime, which even before the declaration of martial law in 1972 was already abducting and murdering youth activists. Both are crimes against the future that is the youth’s promise. There is a difference between the intent of one and that of the other, but their consequences are the same.

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Herald of the failing state

Rodrigo Duterte and Vitaliano Aguirre II
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In his message for National Heroes Day this year, President Rodrigo Duterte urged Filipinos to uphold the rule of law as the best way to express their appreciation for the sacrifices of the heroes who fought for the country’s independence.

“Let us honor them by upholding the rule of law, protecting our nation and fostering goodwill among ourselves,” his message read. Mr. Duterte also pledged to “harness the same virtues as we continue to fight against lawlessness, criminality and poverty that hinder us from achieving our full potential.”

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