FREE PRESS: THE MOST DANGEROUS FOE OF TYRANNY

FREE PRESS: THE MOST DANGEROUS FOE OF TYRANNY

STATEMENT OF THE FIL-AM PRESS CLUB OF NEW YORK

The Filipino-American Press Club of New York (FAPCNY), together with other organizations committed to freedom of speech and the press, stand in solidarity with the journalists and employees of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. and ABS-CBN International’s The Filipino Channel.

As a community of working Fil-Am journalists and communication professionals in the New York Tri-State, FAPCNY is calling on the Philippine Government to respect the role of a free press in creating a sustainable democracy and prosperous society.  We urge Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his political allies to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN, for no other reason other than, it’s the right thing to do.

Over the years, ABS-CBN’s News has played an important role in bringing news to Filipinos around the world, empowering them to make informed decisions. This must continue.

ABS-CBN News has given voice to Filipinos by enabling conversations on relevant issues, holding those in power to account. This must continue.

ABS-CBN’S entertainment programs on the other hand, continue to provide Filipinos around the world an emotional connection to their homeland. This must continue.

Through the years, the network has also been an avid supporter and promoter of homegrown Filipino talent; providing platforms such as talent shows celebrating our countrymen’s love for music, and for creating original Filipino music. This must continue.

While it is not a perfect organization, ABS-CBN has assured the public that it will strive to maintain the highest level of integrity in the conduct of its work. We believe them.  And we also believe shutting down the network for its perceived imperfections is not the ultimate solution.

An attack on ABS-CBN is an assault on all of us who believe in freedom and democracy.

It is also an attack on history – ABS-CBN brought Television to the Philippines at a time when the only other country that had the capability to broadcast entertainment and news in Asia was Japan. 

Filipinos across the globe, including those of us in America, are enjoying news and entertainment because of ABS-CBN’s 65 years of service to the Filipino. 

We are calling on the Philippine Congress and the Philippine President to allow ABS-CBN to continue their service to the Filipino people wherever they may be. 

Winston Churchill once said, “A free press is the unsleeping guardian of every other right that free men prize; it is the most dangerous foe of any tyranny.”

We the People,

The working journalists and media professionals of

The Fil-Am Press Club of New York

 Disclosure: FAPCNY is a press club whose members are comprised of community media professionals and is currently headed by Don Tagala as President and Chairman of the Board. He is a multi-awarded video journalist employed by ABS-CBN International’s North America News Bureau.

We stand with Maria Ressa; We stand for press freedom

We stand with Maria Ressa; We stand for press freedom


FAPCNY Statement on the Arrest of Rappler’s Maria Ressa

The Filipino American Press Club of New York strongly condemns the arrest of Filipino journalist Maria Ressa by members of the Philippines’ National Bureau of Investigation on February 13.

Ressa, founder and CEO of the online publication Rappler, was charged with a cyber libel case for a story published in May 2012. Ressa was released upon posting bail and after spending a night in jail.

We view her arrest as nothing more than an attempt by the current Duterte administration to intimidate independent media that are critical of this government’s brutality, abuses and misinformation. We can cite at least two reasons why we believe that this arrest was merely an attempt by the Duterte government to silence Ressa and many other journalists who continue to speak truth to power.

First, the cybercrime law that was the basis of the libel charge against Ressa was enacted months after the supposed violation. The story in question was posted in May 2012. The law took effect four months later– in September of the same year. One does not have to be a lawyer to know that a person cannot be charged with a crime that was not yet in existence.

Second, Ressa and Rappler have been critical of the Duterte administration, especially its supposed War on Drugs. An estimated 27,000 Filipinos, mostly poor people, have fallen victim to these extrajudicial killings, according to the chairman of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights. By arresting Ressa, the Duterte government has demonstrated that it cannot and will not tolerate legitimate dissent and an independent press.

We believe that a free press is vital to the full functioning of democratic systems – it serves to keep the people informed by providing them with timely and accurate information and by exposing lies and misinformation. This is the way that the press can help the people make informed decisions and be better citizens and participants in society.

A critical press also serves as a counter-balance against those who wield economic and political power, and as a watchdog against abuse of power.

The Filipino American Press Club of New York stands with Maria Ressa and all our media colleagues in the Philippines in holding this President and his administration accountable to the people. We join fellow journalists all over the world in condemning this brazen effort by the Duterte government to shut down press freedom in the Philippines.

We call on freedom-loving Filipinos to stand side by side with beleaguered journalists in the Philippines who continue to hold the line in defending freedom of the press and expression.