DOUBTLESS, democracy flourishes when people with legitimate grievances against government officials and employees are listened to and not dismissed as enemies of the state.
Note that tough-talking President Duterte, a former government prosecutor, has always emphasized that the people, including the ordinary citizens, have the right to express themselves.
A year after the British government launched a media freedom drive, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte wants Filipinos to enjoy the right to dissent and free speech.
“We have the right to peaceful assembly and express our grievances. This is one President (who) will always encourage dissent and freedom of expression, as well as of the press,” said Panelo.
The campaign in support of press freedom was launched by the British government in February 2019 not only in the Philippines but also in various parts of the world.
British Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce said that last year, his office coordinated with government officials, media groups and the academe to uphold press freedom in the country.
For a better understanding of the stakeholders’ sentiments on the Philippine media freedom, the British Embassy in Manila sponsored media tours and caravans, according to Pruce.
Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar, on the other hand, said press freedom is “very much alive” in this Third World nation of English-speaking people.
In fact, Andanar, a former broadcast journalist, stressed that the government of President Duterte was able to create an “enabling media environment” and “a safe space for (working) journalists.”
Certainly, the long-time mayor of Davao City in Mindanao, a lawyer, respects press freedom and wants every Filipino to enjoy the right to dissent and free speech.