KASAMA Vol. 13 No. 3 / July-August-September 1999 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network

August 3, 1999

Filipino American Press Club of Los Angeles

The Filipino American Press Club of Los Angeles expresses its grave concern about the recent developments in the Philippine media. The FAPC of Los Angeles asserts the importance of upholding press freedom as a right not only of journalists but also as part of the freedom of expression of people in a democracy.

We view with vigilance the reports of the actions of President Joseph Estrada which attempt to curtail press freedom by economic sanction (influencing ad boycott of Philippine Daily Inquirer) and deliberately excluding Malacaņang beat reporters of PDI because the newspaper is critical of his administration. We sympathize with the closure of the Manila Times which reportedly was done because of pressure from the government.

Controlling the media and screening the flow of information to newspapers that are not critical of the Philippine government is without doubt a distortion of the truth and a threat to press freedom.

As an organization of Filipino American writers, journalists and professionals engaged in the media in Los Angeles, we believe that it is vital that press freedom must be upheld for the continuance of any democracy, more importantly in the Philippines where press freedom was curtailed for many years during the martial law days.

Many of the news that is sent to the United States are dependent on accurate reports from the Philippine media. If press freedom is curtailed in the Philippines, then how fair and truthful will the information be, that is sent to us, here in Los Angeles?

Instead of retaliating, we encourage President Estrada to sit down and dialogue with the staff and publishers of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The point is: dialogue can help present both sides of the issue.

The press is the Fourth Estate. The role of the press in a democracy is to be vigilant, to try to present the truth as possible. If the press cannot be independent from influence peddlers and attempts to silence those who do good journalism, then the press has lost its reason for existence. A healthy press means well for the politics of any country. A press which can criticize public officials and which allows the freedom of those in government positions to present their side, is certainly ideal. However, threatening and harassing the media will go nowhere.

The Filipino American Press Club of Los Angeles commits itself to the freedom of expression without interference. Let us uphold press freedom.

Filipino American Press Club of Los Angeles
1631 Balard St.,
Carson, CA,
U.S.A. 90745