2018 World Press Freedom Index. Graphic by Karte: NordNordWest, Lizenz
hings have changed significantly since Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law nearly 47 years ago. Back then everyone knew what had happened: One day we Filipinos had television, radio, and newspapers; the next day, all those media outlets were shuttered. Every Filipino back then, knew what had happened. They knew that their freedom of speech had been taken away.
Today, tyrannical and autocratic states have become a lot smarter, and so much more cunning. The rights and freedoms of their citizens are never abruptly taken away. Instead they are slowly and methodically chipped away, bit by bit, so that no one notices the changes taking place. Like the fable of the boiling frog, minute changes are usually undetectable, but in total, those changes can be devastating. According to Wikipedia, the fable’s “premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death.”
As we noted earlier, the days of military coups, with tanks rolling down city streets, mass arrests, and widespread chaos, might soon be a thing of the past. Today, dictators craftily manipulate the many elements at their disposal in order to maintain a veneer of peace and tranquility while they slowly and systematically take away the rights and freedoms of their people.
In the 1950s and 1960s, The Philippines was known to have one of the freest presses in Asia. Today however, there appears to be growing concern from various sectors that free speech and freedom of the press is quietly disappearing. The cases filed against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa for example, are seen by some as a shot across the bow of the Fourth Estate. It is meant to have a chilling effect on everyone in the news profession.”
Others however see nothing of the sort. They contend that our rights and freedoms are intact, and this is all just scaremongering from leftist groups that constantly try to undermine the government.
So who is right? Are our freedom of speech and freedom of the press being slowly taken away? And are we as free today, as we were during the last administration? Do we now have to be more careful about what we say and what we write? We’d like to read what you, our readers, have to say. Tell us where you stand on this issue. Published 4/28/2019