It has taken on a life of its own, but it was evident that President Rodrigo Duterte’s only purpose was to stop Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo’s criticism of his so-called “war on drugs” when he dared her last October 31 to take charge of it for the next six months.
The Marcoses have been asking for closure on the public debate over their late patriarch’s martial law regime and its impact on Philippine politics, culture and economy — and most of all, on the Filipino people’s lives and fortunes. Many are buying into the idea of relegating that period to just another meaningless episode in history that deserves forgetting either because they can’t remember how things were during that period, or just don’t know enough about it.
I am more than honored at being the recipient of the 2019 Titus Brandsma press freedom award. I am accepting it in behalf of the many journalists across the country who, despite physical attacks, death threats, censorship attempts, bans from coverage, whimsical libel suits, and red-baiting continue the necessary task of seeking the truth and reporting it. Most of all am I accepting it in memory of the 165 journalists and media workers who have been killed in this country since 1986 because of their work, among them the 32 killed in the 2009 Ampatuan massacre, the tenth anniversary of which will be on November 23. They deserve the honor more than I do: press freedom is best defended and enriched by journalists’ practicing it and refusing to be silent or silenced.
Truth-telling and accuracy are the fundamental ethical and professional commitments of the alternative press and media in furtherance of the people’s right to know. Truth telling is crucial to the journalistic task of developing among the media audiences the subjective readiness for the changes in society that objective reality so patently demonstrates are needed. Precisely because those in the alternative media are so engaged, they have been harassed, threatened, physically assaulted, and red-baited.
Not only the credibility of the Duterte regime is at stake in the scandal over the alleged appropriation and sale by 13 “ninja cops” of illegal drugs they had confiscated during an anti-drug operation, as well as resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde’s supposedly preventing their dismissal from the service. On the block as well is whether the PNP should continue as the lead organization in that “war”— or should have even been so designated at all.