Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Either you have press freedom or you don't -- Sun.Star Cebu

Either there is press freedom or not, the pooled editorial of Sun.Star Cebu says. Got this info from the blog of Max Limpag who works for the said paper.

Pooled editorial: Media control won’t work

Proclamation 1017 declaring a state of emergency in the country has been described as a harmless weapon that should not instill fear among the law-abiding.

We disagree. It is a lethal weapon in the hands of those who exceed or abuse the power — out of ignorance, spite, or meanness.

Implementors of martial law were guilty of excess or abuse. Enforcers of 1017 are showing signs they don’t know what they are getting into or are bent to exploit it.

The case of police and media is a striking example.


Last Saturday, PNP Director General Arturo Lomibao said police “would take over” any media outlet that violates “standards set by the Government.”

The standards, he said, are writings or broadcasts that “contribute to national instability.”

The other day, PNP Cebu province police chief Eduardo Gador said media must be balanced in reporting and programming and must not endanger national security, or police “would take over.”

Gador took the cue from Lomibao, as police chiefs in other areas must have also done.


Who will evaluate a news medium? Cops, for heaven’s sake, who are probably good at catching criminals but not detecting flaws in reporting.

They can’t do it. They will botch the job, as then president Ferdinand Marcos saw in martial law’s early stage. (Marcos quickly turned to self-censorship and corruption, which were also destructive.)

Why do cops make poor evaluators? They don’t know the craft and its nuances. Their mind-set is that of victims, whipped frequently by media for lapses and offenses.

Even with media experts among evaluators, assessments will be tricky. How much criticism contributes to “destabilization”? Does one stay out of danger by balancing content in favor of the Government?

Press freedom is enshrined in the Constitution and Supreme Court rulings because government control defeats framers’ intent and freedom’s purpose.

And because the glass cannot be half-full: either there is press freedom or not.

Muzzling press

The Government cannot claim to be free and democratic when it gags media by threats of takeover or shutdown.

Sun.Star newspapers abhor sedition or anarchy to topple a government.

Sun.Star has always advocated for rule of law and orderly transfer of power. But always too, Sun.Star has condemned and resisted muzzling of the press, in whatever form or guise.

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