By Tonyo Cruz
On the same day declared as Black Friday to denounce attacks on press freedom, this blogger-turned-columnist joined dozens of other colleagues in making a statement.
In that statement, we said:
“We concerned Filipino bloggers stand for the rights to free expression and to free speech. And our first responsibility is to protect these rights.
“We thus stand with Rappler, its right to exist, the rights of its working journalists and contributors, and the rights of its community of readers.
“We stand against moves to silence and scare journalists, bloggers, and media practitioners just because the President and his ardent supporters dislike their news and views.
“Now is a time for making choices amid battles between truth and lies, debate and dissonance, democracy and dictatorship.
“We sign our names here to tell everyone we have made a choice. We are bloggers for freedom.”
Signing the statement were momblogger Noemi Lardizabal Dado, Loi Landicho of The Professional Heckler, Pinoy Ako Blog’s Jover Laurio, Helga Weber, lawyer Jesus Falcis, Jane Uymatiao, Dale Bacar, Rod Magaru, Ely Valendez, Marcelle Fabie, Global Voices’ Karlo Mongaya, former congressman Raymond Palatino, thought-leader Stefan Punongbayan;
Technology blogger Jam Ancheta, journalists Julius Mariveles and Inday Espina Varona, finance guru Fitz Villafuerte, professional photographer Fritz Tentativa, UP professor Mykel Andrada, tour guide Carlos Celdran, travel bloggers Estan Cabigas, Enrico Dee, Melo Villareal, Acee Vitangcol, and Czarina Maye Noche;
Eugene Alvin Villar, Julius Rocas, Jon Limjap, Markku Seguerra, Hancel Reyes, JM Mariano, JM Tuazon, Brian Ong, Flow Galindez, Jane Uymatiao, Johnn Mendoza, Reginald Agsalon, John Clifford Sibayan, Ramon Nocon, Mc Richard Viana Paglicawan, Saul de Jesus;
Rhadem Camlian Morados, Yusuf Ledesma, Myk Mykapalaran Cruz, Tina Antonio, Renz Daniel de Vera, Alex Lapa, Tess Termulo, Zena Bernardo, James Romer V. Velina, Ricky Rivera, Mark Will Mayo Magallanes, Eyriche Cortez, RJ Barrete, Peachy Tan,, Christian Melanie, Jann Medina, Carlo Arvisu, Reynaldo Pagsolingan Jr., and Dino Manrique.
This bloggers’ statement titled “Bloggers for Freedom” is only the latest in the avalanche of expressions of support for embattled social news network Rappler.
We expect more bloggers to take a stand and we invite them to sign up at http://bit.ly/bloggersforfreedom
The signatories to the “Bloggers for Freedom” statement do not pretend to represent all or most bloggers. But we believe that this statement would capture the support of a clear majority. Because we think that bloggers can continue to honestly express their views on their chosen topics only in an atmosphere of freedom — without any threats or intimidation, without any misinformation or disinformation. Even the most apolitical bloggers would be unable to disagree on this point.
In our conversations, I came to know that many of us bloggers — regardless of category and niche — are very concerned with free speech and free expression issues under the current administration. That is to put it lightly.
Many of us reject trolling, misinformation, and disinformation peddled by self-proclaimed “major bloggers” identified with the current administration. We resent and reject their unethical and hyperpartisan posts — especially those that bully or threaten their perceived opponents.
There is no denying these “major bloggers” have become popular, but not so much because of the quality of content that they post. Many view them as opportunists who ride on the popularity of the President in order to gain followers. There have also been reports that public funds and dirty private money have gone to funding their activities.
I challenge these pro-administration bloggers and Facebook Pages to disclose all the sources of their funding and the identities of the page authors and page administrators. They should not be afraid. They loudly claim to be “partners for change” so they should be transparent and respectful to their readers and the public. And they should be ready to be accountable for what they write or post — including their thinly-veiled calls for their trolls to attack perceived opponents.
The President’s press secretary has repeatedly defended these shady characters as “an asset” to the administration. Meanwhile, the administration is attacking Rappler, threatening to arrest Maria Ressa, and making threats against the Inquirer and ABS-CBN. The pro-administration Congress has also not renewed the franchise for the Catholic Media Network composed of dozens of radio stations.
The contrast is not lost on us bloggers: The administration loves peddlers of misinformation and disinformation, and abuses its power against journalists whose only crime is to accurately report on the rising tyranny.
To be honest, many of us cringe every time these “major bloggers” pretend to be the “most consequential” in Philippine politics. They give blogging and bloggers a bad rep. They are arguably traditional politicians and black propagandists who have capitalized on their loyalty to the President and their choice of medium is blogging. They don’t care about blogging and bloggers; they obviously just care about their political patron.
Once the President is gone, many of us wonder what would be the fate of these “major bloggers”. Some say they would be finally held accountable for their threats, slander, corruption, graft, and other offenses against the Filipino people. I agree and hope that that happens — soon.
For now, we have an important battle right in front of us. A part of the fast-changing media landscape is under attack. We concerned bloggers are taking battle positions — alongside journalists, advocates, and the public. We must win this battle to keep expression and the press free. Because an attack on one is a threat to all.
Follow me on Twitter @tonyocruz and check out my blog tonyocruz.com