By Leslie Ann G. Aquino
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) is praying for protection and justice for journalists who have sacrificed their lives, freedom and personal well-being in pursuit of truth and justice.
The group said they are praying for journalists who are subjected to a wide range of laws that can be used for retribution, and inhibit freedom of expression such as the cyber-libel laws and the anti-terrorism bill.
“A free press is fundamental to a democratic society as it provides a platform for multiplicity of voices to be heard, however it has become a practice to file questionable cases against members of the media as a form of political persecution and to subvert legitimate criticism and opposition,” the NCCP said in their prayer for press freedom.
The group stressed that freedom of expression is a universal human right, and not a prerogative of any politician nor a privilege of journalists.
In their prayer, the NCCP expressed hope that the government will respect and uphold the Philippine Constitution and recognize “the vital role of communication and information in nation-building” and “the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press.”
“May those who are affluent and in authority will not use their influence and power to criminalize views and opinions, criticisms and dissent,” said NCCP.
The group also prayed for the Filipino people that they may always defend the truth.
It added that revealing the truth and exposing evils in the society is a Christian mandate.
The NCPP asked God to give people courage to “speak truth to power, to seek alternatives to violence, to build peace based on justice, and uphold life and human rights.”
The prayer was released on Tuesday, June 16, a day after the conviction of Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa and former researcher- writer Rey Santos Jr. of cyber libel.