The death of free press, literally

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By Adrian Pascua

By Adrian Pascua

Freedom of speech is danger… in one place you wouldn’t expect.

In the Philippines, the National Police reported that since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo came into power in 2001, twenty-six journalists have been killed. Those that were killed were investigating the corruption inside the Arroyo government. The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) has been formed due to the outcry of the Filipino journalists that have been slain.

Of the suspects in the killings, most are all officials in the Filipino government. The list ranges from police officers to government officials in the main branch government.

The death of Hernani Pastolero, editor of the weekly paper, “Lightning Courier” was the last straw for the organization. He was killed in front of his house by gunmen in baseball caps Feb. 20.

As a Filipino-American journalist, the fact that such corruption exists in the country where my parents grew up makes this quite personal. The liberties that we take for granted are taken away from others each day. In the Philippines, the laws meant to protect their journalists are not even looked upon.

I was born an American, and I’m thankful for that. Because each day I wake up, I know I can speak freely without the fear that I will not be censored or killed for what I believe. The Filipino government is much different from our own.

As a result of the killings, other journalists in the country wore black shirts and held picket signs. Letters addressed to President Macapagal-Arroyo came from 20 organizations and 14 different countries, including the United States. If the Philippines show this much respect towards their journalists, then little can be said about the respect of their own citizens.

If this had happened on American soil, the outcry would have been far worse than what it is now. You can not suppress free speech; no one in this world should allow such an atrocity. Killing your country’s media because they are objecting to your policies or government is ridiculous.

As a journalist, I am outraged that any government would even allow something like this to go on for so long. You can not keep the press from doing their jobs. If anything, the Filipino government should be supporting the rights of the press and making their jobs as safe as possible.

You can not silence the truth, no matter how hard anyone may try. Many have tried within their borders, but the other countries have still stepped forward. This time is no different-not one journalist in the world will allow it.

The right to free press isn’t just meant for Americans, it’s meant for everyone. The fact that officials in the Philippines are trying to stop that is an infringement of everyone’s rights.

If the Philippines allows something like this to happen, then the rights of the world are in question. No one anywhere has the power to take away the freedom of free speech.

If one country struggles, then everyone struggles. Protecting our rights-our freedoms-isn’t just something the United States should do, but the world.

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