NUJP Yearend Statement
HAPPY NEW YEAR?
We look back at 2013 with sorrow and look forward to the New Year with hope yet, at the same time, a justified worry that 2014 will portend more of the same bloodshed and impunity, apathy and hostility as the year we are leaving behind.
It is, indeed, difficult to hope impunity with which our colleagues continue to be killed, assaulted, threatened and harassed will end soon or that things may improve a bit under an administration that brushes off media killings in one of the deadliest years for the Philippine press — at least 10 killed, the last three within two weeks — as “not so serious.”
Or under a president who has fallen into the habit of whining about media’s “negativism” whenever his administration finds itself with mud on its face as he did in the wake of Yolanda, lumping coverage of that disaster with those on Zamboanga and Bohol when, in fact, reportage on the two previous disasters had generally been sympathetic.
All this as government continues to remain adamantly apathetic to calls for the passage of laws that would expand the boundaries of freedom of the press and of expression, such as the Freedom of Information bill and the decriminalization of libel.
And of course, we mourn our colleagues who lost their lives delivering information to their audiences even as super typhoon unleashed its deadly storm surge on Tacloban City.
Despite this, we do have reason to hope, not least of all because of the Philippine journalism community’s steadfast commitment to uphold the principles of the profession notwithstanding the continuing attempts to stifle us and portray us as a bane that ought to be stamped out.
We have seen how our community quickly banded together to aid those among us who felt the lash of Yolanda.
Yes, as we have said again and again, the Philippine press remains free because Filipino journalists keep it free.
But we still have our work cut out for us. We still urgently need to reconnect with our audiences, with our people, to help lift them from the state of apathy and ignorance in which deliberate mal-governance has kept them for generations.
We need to make them realize that our collective search for genuine justice and freedom as a people, as a nation, can never be brought to fulfillment without a truly free press that serves both as foil to official abuse and the source of the information with which they, we, can build the future we deserve.
We owe this to them as much as we owe this to ourselves. For without them, we can never survive. To a better, brighter future. Happy New Year!
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