The revocation of Rappler’s license to do business is a clear curtailment of press freedom. At the same time, it is a crackdown that instigated fear in the hearts of mass media organizations.
We acknowledge the validity of Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) decision to revoke Rappler’s license, saying it violated the Constitution, and thus Rappler should be held accountable for it. But, we also believe in due process. Rappler should have been given enough time to correct their mistake.
Mass media are not new to harassments. We have faced various layers of harassment before—threat to journalists’ lives and legal-turning-to-violent accusations. However, at present, there is another layer of harassment that is more sinister than before—silencing the press.
This harassment has woken mass media organizations that it can be very vulnerable despite the power they possess.
Mass media institutions should, therefore, come together to protect our rights and function as the watchdog of society. They should rally the people to heed actions in this apparent government intervention of the press. And the very people who should be the first to stand up against this harassment are members of the press themselves.
Communication schools and campus publications should also support this cause. Campus journalists should go beyond the ivory towers of their institutions and go to the ground and fight for press freedom.
However, we believe that we need everyone’s support for press freedom. The people need to understand that they need the press, especially in this day and age when extra judicial killings become rampant and government manipulation on false information are polluting our “info-sphere.” This is not just the fight of mass media, this is the fight of all citizens. The people should know the importance of press freedom in THEIR DEMOCRACY. Because once press freedom is lost, all our rights are lost.
The government has vast powers and it surely can stand criticism. By using those powers to suppress the media as a social institution, it is weakening the very foundation on which governmental power rests. Governmental abuse leads to public distrust and resentment. If trust is lost, the end cannot be far behind.
The government should realize that what they need are not trolls but sober and credible communication officers that win the trust of a critical press.