Gov’t needs a watchdog and media plays that role — VP Leni

Published January 17, 2018, 11:25 AM

by Nida Ramos-Oribiana

By Merlina Hernando-Malipot 

Vice President Leni Robredo on Tuesday expressed concern on the state of the country’s freedom of the press and freedom of expression following the decision of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revoke the registration of online news organization Rappler.

Vice President Leni Robredo  (FEDERICO CRUZ / MANILA BULLETIN)
Vice President Leni Robredo

During the “​​Istorya ng Pag-asa” launch at the ​​Tandang Sora National High School  in Quezon City, Robredo aired her thoughts on the SEC order accusing Rappler of violating restrictions on foreign ownership and control of mass media entities.

“This should concern us all because we all know that the freedom of the press, the freedom of expression are among the rights that are protected under our Constitution…we all know why we need media and we know what is the purpose of media – to serve as a watchdog and for them to monitor abuses of those in the government,” Robredo said in Filipino.

 Robredo stressed that if there will be no watchdog – so to speak – there will be nothing that would stop officials from committing abuses. “We expect the media to play that role and to give information if there are abuses from the government,” she added.

 Any attempt to curtail the freedom of the press or expression, Robredo said, should be a “concern for every Filipino.”

 Robredo noted that not all media agencies might be getting the same treatment from the government. “The question really is, what is the violation and if that specific violation is committed by that media agency alone…is it being isolated and why is it punished like this?” she said. She also underscored the need for people to understand this, “otherwise, it will create fear” and would prevent those who want to speak against the government.

 “Democracy is very important to us, we value dissent because if no one will oppose, no one will say if what we’re doing is right or wrong,” Robredo said. She also noted that if there are violations, it should be address thru the proper process. “What’s more important is for the public not to think that this is part of the government’s move to silent the opposing side” – in this case, the media.

Meanwhile, Robredo urged every Filipino to play a more active involvement in the country’s issues as she expressed concern on various talks about a new form of government – among others.

“This is the time that every Filipino should take part in every issue that concern our country,” Robredo said. “Never think that all the decision-making depends on the government or the Congress alone when every one of us is part of the institution…we should allow our voices to be heard,” she ended.