We assemble here after so much introspection and vital learnings from the past, transcending our mundane differences and agreeing on one common point: that we are indeed faced by a real, tangible challenge to the stability of our very institution and perhaps even our very own survival;
We gather here by our own full accord, cognizant of the urgency as well as the imperative need for us to first find the courage to seek our one true voice, to be unafraid, uncowed, unbowed and undeterred by forces out to stifle our advocacies and our right to dissent in the name of fairness and objectivity;
We gather here in order to close ranks and, summoning our collective strength, to vigorously address and adequately confront these threats to our independence as media persons in a free environment;
We gather here because we strongly feel that the constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression and its attendant freedom of the press are being constantly put to a test and being assailed once more;
We see this in the present reality that we are currently in: while media remains to be a lofty & noble profession, its practitioners – us – have to constantly labor and contend with assaults against the basic freedoms we have so dearly enshrined as cornerstone of this noble calling;
Some of our colleagues have offered the ultimate, supreme sacrifice of all: death in the arms of those who are coward enough to confront reason with reason, logic with logic, and sanity with an equal amount of sanity, forever silenced by those who hide in the cloak of secrecy, having sought refuge and sanctuary in the monstrosity of force and the barbarity of the bullet;
There are also colleagues of ours who have to bear the threat posed by libel, a constant hazard of the profession and a virtual disincentive to responsible vigilance and militancy in the working press; in a media environment that prides itself to be the freest in the region, we hold it dear in our hearts that the concept of prior restraint is an anathema, and therefore, has no place therein;
We have signed our strongest denunciation against those who, apparently hurt by our tirades and commentaries, seek to thwart the sovereign will of the governed as crystallized in media by preventing – at times by shooting – the messenger;
Today we are at war: at war against the constant terror waged by our critics & detractors, those who appear intimidated by the more superior force of reason and righteousness;
We are at war…against those who seek to mangle news into a tool for propaganda and disinformation, against the merchants of falsehoods and fallacies out to entice and corrupt media by the glitter of gold and the power of the dime;
We are at war…against economic depravity that relegates media work to being a mere economic engagement, rather than as a medium or platform to transform, to impact, to catalyze, to reform. True enough, there can never be genuine press freedom if media remains in the bondage of want and in the stranglehold of corruption and fear;
We are at war…against those who mistakenly view media as a mindless adversary and opponent, rather than as a necessary counter-force to excesses and indiscretions, against those who seek to prostitute the nobility of our cause, against the merchants and peddlers of mediocrity and compromise;
Tonight, in this austere evening of solidarity and oneness with fellow workers in the press, we pay solemn tribute to the many courageous men and women of the profession who braved death or jail in the course of bringing stories to the people truthfully and well;
Their labors are safe in our memories for we shall always remember them…in songs…in poetry… and in their stories of freedom and struggle.
Long live the Filipino Journalist!