Philippine media: Silencing the press builds ignorance in society

My goal after graduation was to move to the Philippines for three months and build my career as a journalist there. My parents warned me that being a journalist in the Philippines was a dangerous job because they killed reporters for exposing the injustices and corruptions of the country.

Since 1986, 177 reporters have been killed in the Philippines. Journalism is about presenting news from an unbiased standpoint. Journalists are the medium for the public to know what is happening within their country and government. We do not control corruption, that is solely the person who chooses so in the first place.

Yet, President Rodrigo Duterte believes that journalists that “disrespect” others, despite the constitution protecting the rights of the press, can still be violently attacked or killed.

President Rodrigo Duterte

Duterte has an iron grip on the media, skewing facts to fiction so that the citizens of the Philippines are informed by the mouth of an authoritarian leader.

As news rotates around the country, some things aren’t absorbed quite right. The Philippines was rated the third most “ignorant” country, according to Ipsos’s “The Perils of Perception 2017.”

The Philippines were rated highly misinformed and ignorant to topics of terrorism, murder and health issues.

33 percent of Filipinos that took the survey were confident in all their answers. That is alarming because fake news can spread rapidly among them. According to an article on Rappler titled “Why worry about Filipinos online being ‘most ignorant’?” seeing more coverage on fake news can ultimately make them believe it is prevalent and true.

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What does that say about the harmful effects for news organizations?

Maria Ressa, a former CNN bureau chief who founded a digital news site called Rappler, has been combatting Duterte on the future of Philippine democracy. Rappler is focusing on Duterte’s corruption of power and police abuses on the war on drugs.

Independent news organizations are looking to report news, not stories that flatter Duterte ego and power.

With Duterte building his empire through violence such as extrajudicial killings over the war on drugs, it’s difficult for these people to choose which is moral and unethically wrong.

When fear is implemented in the stakes of getting rid of a problem instead of working through it in a moral way, many choose to abide. For instance, Duterte encourages the unemployed to kill criminal suspects.

These reports on the war on drugs are what irks Duterte to challenge and invoke the press to be silenced. Anyone and everyone has the right to express themselves as they please, but rights also come with consequences. The press is not here to try to hide the actions of extrajudicial killings, which is a major problem in the Philippines. The press has every right to expose and justify the actions that have been taken place by politicians and other authorities.

To silence and eradicate the freedom of the press incites censorship to biased news. The public has the right to know what is going on in their government in an unbiased manner. Building trust with a nation on lies can only make the country more of a dystopia than reality.

Reading the news about my home country is disheartening. As much as I love my culture, the attack on freedom of the press makes the country corrupt in power.

Opinions expressed in The Northern Light do not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper, its staff or faculty adviser(s).