[A joint media statement against the Terror Bill]
We are the community of independent Filipino journalists.
We are the descendants of Lopez Jaena, of Del Pilar, of Rizal, of Leona Florentino, the sons and daughters of Don Chino, Joe Burgos, Tony Nieva, inheritors of the great tradition of critical and independent Philippines journalism, a journalism that speaks truth to power in the service of the people.
We cherish freedom of the press and of expression not because these belong to us but because these are freedoms we wield – not perfectly, with many mistakes, as we readily admit – to serve the people’s right to know, freedoms we jealously guard and defend against all efforts to silence us. For this, we have been vilified, threatened, called enemies of the state, targeted with weaponized laws, even killed, as the long list of our fallen colleagues attest.
But, having survived a dictatorship and emerged victorious, we have stood strong against all threats and attacks, and continue to raise our collective voice against all efforts to silence us. This includes the current dispensation, led by a man who openly abhors criticism and dissent, and has dismissed human rights and the laws that protect these as nuisances.
And now we face what could be the gravest threat to the existence of the free Philippine media since Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972 – the proposed Anti-Terror Law.
It is a law so draconian and prone to abuse it could cancel out not just press freedom and freedom of expression, but practically all the protections our Bill of Rights guarantees us. Under this law, we all face the risk of being tagged terrorists for simply exercising our rights and speaking out against wrong.
Today, Independence Day, we renew our pledge to serve the people, to continue speaking truth to power, and to guard and defend freedom of the press and of expression from all threats.
Today, we vow, never again will we allow our freedoms to be suppressed.