Wednesday, March 01, 2006

PPI laments attempts to curb press freedom

The Philippine Press Institute views with grave concern attempts to curtail press freedom following President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s declaration of a state of national emergency.

A newpaper’s editorial office and printing press have been raided for offenses that authorities have not deigned to make public or explain. Warnings have been issued against violations of “standards” that are shrouded in obfuscation and mystery.

“No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of the press, ” the Constitution says. Where no law can trespass through the front door, no proclamation, decree, order or directive should intrude via the backdoor in the guise of preserving law and order as well as security.

The State is trampling on grounds protected by the Constitution and hallowed by tradition. The exercise of emergency powers does not suspend the Bill of Rights. Prior restraint on the press is anathema to a democratic way of life.

That no newspaper has been closed down and no journalist has been hauled off to jail do not make the assaults on the press any less repugnant.

The intent is to intimidate.

The Philippine press has a long tradition of resistance to tyranny. We refuse to be cowed. The press should not yield an inch of ground.

The PPI, thus, calls on all media organizations to expose and to resist any State attempt to limit their exercise of press freedom.

The PPI also commits itself in solidarity with all sectors resisting the creeping return to the dark days of repression.

(The statement of the Philippine Press Institute adopted during its regular board meeting on March 1, 2006.)

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