MANILA, Philippines – “A government that curtails or limits press freedom and freedom of expression is a frightened and insecure government.”
This strong statement came from Archbishop Rolando J. Tria Tirona, OCD, director of the Caritas Philippines, amid calls made by various groups to defend press freedom. Caritas Philippines or the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) is the humanitarian, development, and advocacy arm of the Catholic Church.
In a move that both angered and surprised press freedom advocates, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revoked the registration of Rappler on Monday, January 15.
This triggered a series of protests led by different groups such as College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP), and Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI), calling on the public to join their call for the government to stop its consistent attacks against the media. (READ: Campus journalists say press freedom is everyone’s battle)
“The action smacks of “reign of terror,” an arrogant and high-handed warning to the media practitioners that do not kowtow to the administration,” Archbishop Tirona added in the interview with the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN).
Archbishop Tirona also called on the public “to be guided and enlightened by the Catholic teachings to discern what is true and false, fake and authentic, good and evil.”
Earlier, Archbishop Tirona appeared in a statement shirt supporting Rappler in its case against the SEC.
For many media groups, the SEC ruling is reminiscent of the attacks against the press when the late ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law more than 40 years ago.
During that dark period of the country’s history, the Catholic Church was one of the leading voices of opposition against the Marcos military rule. – Rappler.com