By Philippine News Agency
MANILA — If it were not for the collective sacrifices of Filipinos during the People Power Revolution in 1986, there would not be freedom of expression we have today, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said on Monday.
Andanar made this remark in an interview over The Manila Times’ livestream where he was among the resource persons invited to speak about the peaceful uprising against a dictatorship.
“Kung hindi po dahil sa sakripisyo nila, walang magiging Duterte administration today (If it were not for their sacrifices, there would not be a Duterte administration today),” Andanar said.
“Fast forward 33 years today, kita naman natin (we can see) because of those good deeds that were done in ‘86, it may not be a perfect government, a perfect revolution, but EDSA has led us to what we are today,” he added.
Former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., for his part, pointed out how President Rodrigo R. Duterte himself encouraged students to be vocal about their dissent against government.
“Contrary to the impression that is being created against him (Duterte), sinabi niya yung mga estudyante na scholars, pabayaan niyo magsalita for or against the government. Karapatan po nila ‘yan (what he said about students scholars, to allow them to speak for or against the government. That’s their right),” Pimentel said.
“You know that means a lot to our people because in other words, kung meron kang nakikita dahil hindi maganda ang ginagawa sa ahensiya ni President Digong, sabihin mo (if you can see something not good in the Duterte government, you can air your thoughts) and do something about it,” he added.
Andanar echoed Pimentel’s statement, noting that Duterte was only against students who joined communist groups and not dissenters.
“Madalas naman sabihin ni Presidente, kung gusto niyo mag rally sige mag rally ka diyan…He’s a man of the law, prosecutor alam niyang mahalaga ang freedom of expression (The President would usually say, ‘if you want to protest, go ahead. He’s a man of the law, prosecutor, he knows the importance of freedom of expression),” Andanar said.
The PCOO chief said further proof that Duterte prioritized freedom of expression were his first and second administrative orders focused on the protection of media and freedom of information.
In 2016, the first administrative order issued by the President was for the creation of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) mandated to protect the life, liberty and security of media workers and their families.
On the other hand, his second administrative order was the Freedom of Information (FOI), mandating full public disclosure of all offices under the executive branch.