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Joey De Venecia Champions Press Freedom

December 23, 2009

Philippine journalism has found a new ally with opposition senatorial bet, IT businessman Joey De Venecia,  lauding the Senate’s passage of the Freedom of Information Act.De Venecia, who blew that lid off the NBN-ZTE  scam, feels the move could become a turning point for Philippine media:

With this law, investigative journalists can expose corruption and all kinds of wrongdoing in the government. Philippine media can become an even more powerful force in nation building.

Noting that the country’s press has long been considered the freest in Asia and one of the most vibrant in the world, the ZTE-national broadband network whistleblower recalled how his expose became known to all Filipinos through print and broadcast media.

The young De Venecia has emerged as one of the leading senatorial candidates in next yesars polls, based on the recent findings of various opinion-polling groups.

The House and Senate  should draw up more laws that will help media practitioners perform their jobs more efficiently.

In the US, which passed its own Freedom of Information Act many years ago, newsmen are able to work wonders as in the case of investigative reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein on the Watergate scandal, which led to the fall of President Richard Nixon.

The Philippines has its share of committed journalists whose only agenda is to report the truth, regardless of who gets hurt.

Filipino newsmen are among the world’s best, whether in print, broadcast and the electronic media.

Joey de Venecia is, however, sad that the Philippines has now become the most dangerous place in the world for journalists, especially after the massacre of 57 civilians in Maguindanao last month, more than half of whom were journalists:

Before they were killed, some of the 30 slain newsmen were able to inform their families and peers of their imminent death as ordered by Mayor Andal Ampatuan through their cell phones,

Their use of IT turned them from being mere victims to heroes of Philippine journalism. They “literally died in the performance of their duty.

After the Freedom of Information Act, Congress should decriminalize libel next.

It is another tragedy that we have journalists who have been imprisoned because they dared write stories unfavorable to powerful politicians.

In Mindanao, for example, an editor was imprisoned because he allegedly libelled Speaker Prospero Nograles.

Very well said.

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