Election 2022 and press freedom

Published May 7, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid

PAGBABAGO

Dr. Florangel Rosario-Braid

In two days, the country will face one of its most challenging political exercises. This comes six days after the commemoration of World Press Freedom Day which this year marks an important watershed.  More than the years before, there has been a marked increase in fake news, disinformation, and digital attacks as well as unlawful surveillance. Cyberbullying, trolling, and hacking continues and have become more widespread with an increase in Internet services. The latter is accompanied with what is described as DDOS or distributed denial or service and Internet shutdowns. Which is why this year’s theme, “Journalism Under Digital Siege” has been chosen to underscore the impacts of these attacks.

Because our 2022 national election is perceived as unprecedented as it takes  place during the Covid-19 pandemic, there is an urgent need to protect and promote the crucial role of independent media. This,  according to a paper jointly signed by ambassadors of Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the Delegation of the European Union, and the charge d’ affaires of the Embassy of the Netherlands.

These groups laud the “growing civic awareness as well as the emergence of independent fact-checking organizations, of civic education groups, human rights defenders and the efforts of free media and investigative journalists who have done much to help reinforce and protect democracy in the Philippines.”

Election 2022 and its prospects  in building democratic institutions, combat corruption and enhance transparency and accountability had ignited the imagination of the world,  primarily because of the factors I had noted.  These and the presence of volunteerism at its finest had inspired our people to participate in various ways.  The way people are responding to VP Leni Robredo is short of a miracle in terms of self-sacrifice and willingness to go all out to ensure her victory. New York Times recently featured this rallying of the youth to “upend an Election saying they want change.” As we had witnessed in the dozens of rallies held in various cities and provinces throughout the country, she had attracted hundreds of thousands who had come not merely to listen but to offer their services. This  brand of “passion and intensity” had marked the manner  people from various sectors responded to her campaign. They spent their own funds and contributed talent and time on campaign paraphernalia, house-to-house campaigns, meetings, and all sorts of creative ways to project her programs and platforms. New York Times further notes that “half of the 65 million registered voters are between the ages of 18 and 30” which means that the signs are quite hopeful.

While some like myself may deplore the negative impact  of the multi- party system and  had  advocated its abolition, I  however acknowledge a   positive contribution it had made in  the  strengthening of our democracy. The various parties had brought in their own perceptions of challenges that needed to be “fixed”, and had enriched the conversation on how to go about transforming these institutions.  The debates had enlightened the electorate not only on the merits of each candidate but also on the true state of our nation and the varied options and solutions available.

I am a Kakampink and I support all its candidates. Like millions of other Filipinos, I believe in the Leni-Kiko team’s priorities – good governance, transparency and accountability, and transformation of our institutions to meet urgent needs such as food security, employment, sovereignty, and human rights

Like the highly respected intellectual Naom Chomsky who endorsed the Ka Leody de Guzman and his team-mate, Walden Bello, I have likewise a high regard for these two for their unwavering stand for the rights of the workers and the marginalized.  If Leni and Kiko were not running, these two would have been my choice. I hope that they would continue with their advocacy for these much needed reforms and that they should perhaps again in 2028. Senator Ping Lacson and his team-mate, Tito Sotto make every Filipino proud that we have national leaders like them. It is times like these when we wish that the winner in a national election would do a “Lincoln” meaning, he or she would bring in fellow candidates who had lost the fight but are willing to serve the government. We can envision someone like Ka Leody with a cabinet post like Social Welfare or Migrant Workers.

Let us continue to nurture our vision of a good society when we go to the polls on Monday.

My email, [email protected]

 
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