Fil-Can View By Daniel Nolasco-Cajurao: Freedom of the Press
BACKBONE OF DEMOCRACY – In every democratic institution or country, for that matter, the people are vested with civil liberties and rights, particularly the right of expression, which shall be their means to criticize and scrutinize any of its leaders or anyone tasked to administer the business of good governance.
This freedom of expressing their outbursts, sentiments, and opinions against any erring public officials and government leaders is a manifestation that the people are sovereign, thus has the supremacy in a democratic institution.
To express their emotions, however, the people need an outlet and venue which in this case can be provided only by the press, through its tri-media agencies, such as the print, radio and television networks. In a nutshell, for democracy to be worthy of its existence and significance, the presence of the free press as the purveyor of information and the tributary of unrestrained ideas and opinions is apparently indispensable.
As the people’s freedom of expression is a constitutional right under a democratic form of government, the free press is a fundamental tool of a democratic society, as it gathers, chronicles, and circulates the news, information, ideas, comments, and opinions of the people. In effect, the press provides the people with the opportunity for their voices to be heard, giving them the platform to exercise fully their right of expression embodied in the constitution.
Apart from being the guardian of democracy, an animated and vigilant press, ensures the people are always updated and be aware of the abuses, vices, lifestyles, activities, and decisions of their elected political leaders, who incidentally govern only temporarily, and whose mandate is none other than to serve and protect the rights and interests their constituents.
It is along with this perceived concept that the press is well recognized as partner of the freedom loving citizenry, thus it’s deemed the backbone of democracy, a system of government in which power is vested upon the people. Hence, lest the government became haven of crooks, grafters, and felons, there’s a great need for the freedom of the press to be promoted, advanced, nurtured, preserved, and safeguarded. Suppressing the freedom of the press is certainly tantamount to dictatorship, which is the antithesis of democracy.
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SHUTDOWN OF RAPPLER - Incidentally, it seems the press nowadays, as in the Philippines, is beset with threats of persecution and harassments, as indicated with the recent closure of the “Rappler”, deemed as one of the vigilant and truth advocate media establishments in the country today.
While we are not deeply akin to its management, which may have some legal lapses as with other businesses, yet we still believe its shutdown is a deliberate act of curtailing its constitutional rights in exposing and revealing the anomalies, cruelties, and abuses in the present government of the country.
That it reported a presidential appointee had meddled in the would-be purchase of that multi-million Naval vessel is something that deserves to be afforded with a full blown impartial and comprehensive investigation, instead of having a seemingly whitewashed investigation which is undoubtedly prejudicial to the integrity of the present administration.
Rather than cancelling its business permit, the government shall have resorted to a more diplomatic approach in asking the Rappler to divulge more facts and figures that shall substantiate its reports, if only to dissect the truth, and summon all concerned to appear for investigation, otherwise the accused person will remain guilty to the minds of the ordinary people, who have none other to believe but the Rappler’s report itself.
Its seemingly unjustifiable drastic action against Rappler can be construed as cover up of the truth, and a manifestation that the government is too onion-skinned against criticisms and accusations of its abuses.
If, indeed, the shutdown of Rappler is due to its legal lapses, allegedly the use of DPR, then the government shall prove it before the court. But I don’t think it shall resort to the outright closure without any proper notice for Cease and Desist of Operation.
After all, leading legal luminaries opined the DPR is not a representation of a Share of Stocks, but merely a Proof of an investment. In the legal parlance, an investor person is deemed not an owner of the business entity per se. Being a mere investor, the PDR holder doesn’t have the right to participate in the administration of the business of the corporation, neither it can dictate its officers in the implementation of company policies.
Henceforth, as a media entity, we subscribed to the option for the Rappler to be accorded due consideration of its challenging role in pursuit of press freedom, as it deserves to be given a fair chance of answering any accusation relevant to its report, libelous it may be. But an outright order for CDO is certainly an abuse of power and discretion of the government, or any of its instrumentalities.
For that matter, as a journalist by vocation, my heart bleeds that the government we expect to be humane and kind-hearted to the press is seemingly becoming tempestuous and belligerent against journalists who are in the forefront to criticize, scrutinize, and condemn abuses, cruelties, inequities and injustices in government.
After Rappler, who’s next?*