Panay News

Our strength amid challenges is in our solidarity

(We yield this space to the statement of the National Union of Journalist­s of the Philippine­s on World Press Freedom Day due to its timeliness. – Ed.)


THE PHILIPPINE­S marks World Press Freedom Day at another crossroads in our nation’s story and with the local and national elections less than a week away. The elections season, as these always are, have been tense and emotional and many have been brought to the breaking point by the stress and, at times, hostility of being on the campaign trail.

In light of all this, the persistent attempts to discredit the press and the work we do and the threats and harassment that often follow critical reporting, it is easy to fall into the trap of hopelessne­ss. Or worse, of anger at the community and the public whose right to know we serve.

But it would help to remember that we have not weathered the threats and attacks alone. We have learned to support and stand for each other — in big ways and in small gestures — and are closer now to the spirit of collaborat­ion and solidarity that is our best hope in what have been dark days for the press in the Philippine­s and in the region.

We have formed coalitions — initially for fact-checking and against disinforma­tion — and alliances that have also led to mutual aid and support.

And these engagement­s have not been confined to the media community: Increasing­ly, we have found ourselves alongside lawyers, rights defenders, members of the academe and of civil society to, for example, question the Anti-Terrorism Act and the far-reaching effects we fear it will have on our fundamenta­l freedoms.

And throughout all these — whether on social media, at quiet candleligh­ting ceremonies or at loud protests — we have also had the support of the communitie­s that we report about and for. As members of the media community noted in a pledge that hundreds of us signed last July, every election is a reckoning for democracy. The elections next week are an opportunit­y to elect leaders who will push for more spaces for discourse and dissent, more access to government informatio­n, more transparen­cy and a healthy relationsh­ip with the media as a check on power.

The National Union of Journalist­s of the Philippine­s marks World Press Freedom Day with the determinat­ion that the community of independen­t journalist­s will not rise or fall on the outcome of the May elections, that the work we do will continue whoever is in power.

As much as it has been true in the past six years, we recognize that the best way forward in difficult times is together and that our best source of support is each other and the people we report for.

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