Tagle: Freedom of the press is Church's 'conviction'
MANILA, Philippines – Manila Archbiship Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on Friday, January 19, reiterated the Church’s “conviction” of the importance of free speech amid concerns by local and international media organizations over the Duterte administration’s attacks against online news organization Rappler.
“This isn’t just an opinion. It’s our conviction that there should be freedom of the people to share information and the right of people to receive information,” he said during a forum on "Catholic Media in Challenging Times.”
Part of that freedom, said Tagle, is freedom of the press.
Tagle was asked by a reporter for his take on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)’s recent decision to revoke Rappler’s license to operate, allegedly because it violated rules on foreign ownership.
Rappler has denied the allegations and criticized the decision as yet another form of harassment from the Duterte administration. President Rodrigo Duterte himself, during his 2017 State of the Nation Address, falsely claimed that Rappler was foreign-owned.
Tagle declined to answer the question about the SEC decision directly. “I’ll admit, I don’t want to give my opinion on things that I have not yet studied because it’s hard to take it back later on,” he said, noting that he was still at the level of “trying to understand” the issue.
While the SEC decision is not yet executory, the Justice Department has since ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into the matter. The NBI has also been directed to look into other possible violations by the organization and its members.
Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and a former reporter on January 18 received subpoenas from the NBI for a cybercrime case filed over a 2012 article. The NBI says this is not connected to the Justice Department’s directive.
In his keynote during the forum, Tagle reflected on Vatican II, a council in the 1960s that crafted guides for Catholics to interact with the modern world.
The archbishop noted that while technology has certain progressed since the document was released, “many of the things mentioned” were still issues to this day.
Tagle spoke about the importance of social communication, particularly when it comes to “evangelizing” through the medium and sorting through the “noise” from social media and “addiction” to modern gadgets.
The Cardinal was joined by Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Commission on Social Communications head Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara, and journalists Howie Severino and John Nery in the forum. – Rappler.com