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PIA Press Release
2006/10/26

PNP official cites unifying role of free press in a democratic society

by Rutchie Cabahug-Aguhob

Cagayan de Oro City (26 October) -- The Administration protects the press because it upholds democracy and it would consider supporting the proposal to decriminalize libel to show support for the freedom of the press.

“Freedom is the essence of democracy and freedom involves the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It also means the right to dignity,” P/Chief Supt. Florante J. Baguio, Regional Director of the Philippine National Police, region 10, said.

He said these are the rights which a constitution guarantees in a democratic system and a free press, in law and practice, is an indicator of these rights envisioned in a democratic set up.

Baguio believes that our country is among the freest of the free when it comes to the press and the best way to objectively discern the situation is to ask the press practitioners themselves if they are subject to any pressure or intimidation, which they are not.

“Press is feared and that fear logically should come out of respect and faith of the people who consider them the watchdog of society. It must be vigilant, alert and cautious to try to present the pubic the truth as possible. Although a private business, it is influenced and affected by public interest,” he said.

He further said “freedom of the press” means freedom in the collection of information, freedom of opinion and comment, freedom from interference by public authority including the freedom to criticize and oppose governments and political bodies and freedom in the dissemination of news by all forms of news media.

With these freedoms, however, comes great responsibility and this is a challenge to all press practitioners, be they in the broadcast and print industry who are responsible for disseminating quality news and facts.

Press freedom should also go with a sense of accountability, responsibility and an objective judgment and analysis of the facts as press, in a way, is an agent and executor of this right and people’s collective will to be informed. That’s why the press deserves freedom.

A healthy press means well for the politics of any country as it can criticize public officials and allows the freedom of those in government positions to present their side is certainly ideal. In fact, people can get a picture of one another through the press.

“The task and role of the press during chaotic times, especially with regard to issues of the government and politics-related problems therefore, must be to promote unity amidst diversities in ideas and outlooks regarding issues. Thus, it must unify the people rather than divide them under its influence,” Baguio added.

On the other hand, he said, the murder of journalists is a separate issue and the Government is mustering the full force of the criminal justice system to resolve these cases as some notable cases have already been solved and the perpetrators are now being brought to justice. (PIA 10) [top]

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