Press freedom alleged

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The death last Saturday of Allan Dizon, a photojournalist like Gene Boyd Lumawag of Mindanao, who was killed two weeks ago in Jolo, Sulu, brings the number of journalists killed this year to 12, and the Philippine record since 1986 to 60. These deaths have made press freedom an allegation rather than the reality many Filipinos presume it to be. The haunting possibility is that they will continue.

Four journalists were killed in November alone, making 2004 the worst year so far since democracy was–allegedly– restored in this country 18 years ago. Continue reading

Powerless

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The country is hemorrhaging brain as well as brawn as Filipinos leave the country in droves. Hunger is now the uninvited guest at most Filipino tables.

Journalists are being killed at a rate that would be understandable in US- ravaged Iraq, not in the one country in Asia where press freedom is protected by the Constitution. Continue reading

Caught in a bind

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The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Santiago, Chile has become the venue for the realization of the Arroyo administration’s fondest wish in foreign relations since July this year. US President George Bush engaged President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in what seemed to be a friendly conversation during an APEC dinner over the weekend.

We can expect the latter’s government to milk that event for all it’s worth, but not only for the consumption of those Filipinos who think the world of the US, and that the world is the US. Crucial to the political survival of the Arroyo government–or so it believes– is the appeasement of the super hawks inside the Bush administration, as well as those of its advisers who looked at Mrs. Arroyo’s decision to withdraw the Philippine contingent from Iraq last July as a betrayal of US interests and as probable cause for the withdrawal of US support. Continue reading

Journalists at war

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Uniquely in Asia, only the Philippine press is protected by a Constitutional provision prohibiting the passage of any law abridging press freedom. But also uniquely in Asia, more journalists have been murdered in the Philippines since 1986.

Were it not for the war in Iraq, the number of journalists killed in the Philippines this year would have made the country unique in the planet. In 2003, only the killings in Iraq as well as Colombia and Afghanistan saved the Philippines from the distinction of being the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. The international press freedom advocacy group Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF–Reporters Without Borders) nevertheless describes the Philippines today as “the world’s most dangerous country for journalists after Iraq.” Continue reading

Damaging U.P.

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The University of the Philippines (UP) Board of Regents, under the UP Charter the body charged with choosing the UP president, will meet this Thursday, the 17th of November, for that purpose. That meeting will mark the culmination of a three-month process that began last August, in anticipation of the retirement of Francisco Nemenzo in February, 2005, when he turns 70.

Who the next UP president will be is naturally a matter of concern for many UP faculty, its more militant students, most of the non-academic staff, and those alumni who still follow developments in their alma mater. Whatever policies the next president will put in place will affect the conditions under which professors, students and employees teach, study, and work. Interested alumni, on the other hand, at least want to be assured that UP will be in good hands for it to continue to be the institution that provided them the training that made so many of them successful and/or enabled them to make a difference in this country, or wherever else they now reside. Continue reading