PRESS SUPPRESSED BY MARCOS; WILL DUTERTE BOYCOTT BE GOOD?

PRESS SUPPRESSED BY MARCOS;

WILL DUTERTE BOYCOTT BE GOOD?



George A. Malcolm (2nd row, 2nd from right), pictured in 1904 together with fellow founding members of the Acacia Fraternity at the University of Michigan.

FROM THE TIME OF RIZAL,
WE WON OUR PRICELESS
FREEDOM OF THE PRESS;
WE CANNOT ALLOW TO
GAMBLE IT EVEN TO ANGELS

In his immortal rulings in United States vs Bustos case decided by the Supreme Court of old, Justice George A. Malcolm, the founder of the University of the Philippines College of Law and later its first regular dean, retraced the history of press freedom in the Philippines as something paid dearly by our heroes, including Jose Rizal, with their blood.

In this case, Justice Malcolm wrote:
Turning to the pages of history, we state nothing new when we set down that freedom of speech as cherished in democratic countries was unknown in the Philippine Islands before 1900. A prime cause for revolt was consequently ready made. Jose Rizal in "Filipinas Despues de Cien Años" (The Philippines a Century Hence, pages 62 et seq.) describing "the reforms sine quibus non," which the Filipinos insist upon, said:

"The minister, . . . who wants his reforms to be reforms, must begin
by declaring the press in the Philippines free and by instituting
Filipinos delegates.

With this Malcolm principle as premise, can we gamble it even if it appears that it is an angel who is boycotting it?

I am perhaps one of the hottest supporters, campaigners and voters of Rody Duterte. I even served as his lawyer at the provincial canvassing of South Cotabato in the last elections to safeguard his votes.

During martial law, Marcos clamped down all private media entities, arrested journalists like Joe "Joe" Burgos, who is until today the most respected in the academe of press freedom.

Among those newspapers he closed down were the old Manila Times and Manila Chronicle. Marcos brother-in-law Kokoy Romualdez organized Philippine Journalists, Inc. and used the printing press machine of Chronicle and published what later became popular newspapers as Times Journal, People's Journal, People's Journal Tonight (where I became a sportswriter, deskman and later news editor).

Marcos also seized all television stations. His crony Roberto Benedicto took over those what we call now as Channel 4 (what is today called "NBN" or "PTV 4"), Channel 9, Channel 13 and Channel 2 (that we call now as ABS-CBN or "Abias-CBN according to Deterte supporters like me).

Marcos also seized what is now known as Channel 7, doing the same literally by swarming it with soldiers. Marcos in the mean time allowed its founder-owner Robert La Rue “Uncle Bob” Stewart, an American war correspondent to manage the station. But later, Marcos imposed a ban for aliens to own any media establishment, and Stewart was forced to give the same to three persons: Malacanang official Gilberto Duavit Sr., accountant Menardo Gimenez, and Stewart's lawyer Atty. Felipe Gozun. It is recalled that recently Imee Marcos claimed that her father Ferdinand own GMA 7. Actually, Duavit, Gimenez and Gozun were suspected as cronies of Marcos.

The harshness of Marcos compelled conscience-stricken journalists, including Joe Burgos, started what became known as "mosquito press," small newspapers like We Forum, the old Malaya and Mr. & Ms. sprouted to bite Marcos and his cronies like mosquitoes.

These were some of the events that took place during martial law. These must be told to the present generation, particularly to all Duterte supporters like me. That is so in order for them to understand the importance of the press in relation to or vis-a-vis the pre-inauguaration declaration of President Rordrigo Roa Duterte that he will boycott the media.
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