Cagayan de Oro celebrates 40th Press Freedom Week without context
Many journalists who organized and participated in the first Cagayan de Oro Press Freedom Week activities 40 years ago are no longer around, and today’s media professionals in the city have forgotten or have no memory of the years of the Marcos dictatorship.
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — One of Cagayan de Oro City’s leading broadcasters, Magnum Radio, has romanticized the period of Marcos’ martial law as the golden age of governance in the Philippines.
Its main commentator, Albino “Jun” Quinlog, read his listeners’ text messages on Wednesday morning, May 25, after asking if they thought the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos deserved heroic status.
The messages Quinlog read on air were from people who believed the late father of alleged President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. should be considered a hero.
The day before, Quinlog had also asked his listeners if they preferred martial law to democracy.
Almost everyone who responded was convinced that the country should be put under martial rule again so that “Filipinos will be disciplined”.
Another Magnum Radio commentator, Manny Agustero, praised the infamous period of martial law even before the election, repeatedly saying life was much better under the Marcos dictatorship.
Not once did the radio commentator refer to the excesses and atrocities committed during the infamous period of martial law.
Forty years ago, Cagayan de Oro Mayor and Leader of the Opposition, Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., issued an executive order to observe Press Freedom Week in the city every last week of May. as a political statement against the way the dictatorship has muzzled the critical press. .
The Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC), the city’s largest media organization, is leading the 40th celebration of Press Freedom Week this week, which it has held since May 24, 1982.
But many of the journalists who organized and participated in the first Cagayan de Oro Press Freedom Week activities 40 years ago are no longer there, and the city’s current media professionals, many of whom weren’t even born in 1982, have either forgotten or have no memory of the years of dictatorship.
The COPC theme for this year’s celebration itself is raising eyebrows. It reads, “La took her bag-ong kagamhanan (The press of the new government).
In his memoirs, Martial Law in the Philippines: My Story, the late Senator Pimentel recalled, “There was a major speech I gave to the Cagayan de Oro Press Club on the occasion of the first celebration of Press Freedom Week on May 24, 1982. ( As mayor, I issued an executive order to observe Press Freedom Week in the city every last week of May. It was my way of encouraging the media in Cagayan de Oro to exercise freedom of the press. press in the city while the martial law regime suppressed this freedom in other parts of the country.)”
Former COPC presidents said it was disheartening that many media workers in Cagayan de Oro observe this year’s Press Freedom Week without context and without a clear understanding of why Pimentel issued the executive order in 1982.
Dolly Ilogon, a former COPC president, said Pimentel’s act was a political statement against years of dictatorship, and she was saddened because only a few remembered it and held the line.
Eduardo Montalvan, who was COPC president before martial law was declared in 1972, said the annual celebration was reduced to seminars, sports activities and dinners over the years, and many eventually lost their understanding. of the meaning of Cagayan de Oro. Press Freedom Week Celebration.
“Maybe the reason is that in this place of ours, we hardly know about the lack of freedom of the press,” he said.
Uriel Quilinguing, another former COPC president, said many Cagayan de Oro broadcasters reported on the Marcos years without historical context.
“Their station managers, most of them older than their reporters, and the radio station owners should have bothered to provide them with the historical facts,” Quilinguing said.
Cong Corrales, editor of the Mindanao Gold Star Daily, called on journalists in the city to observe the local press freedom week by celebrating hard-won victories and taking stock of the outlook for journalism.
Corrales said it was “tragic that many new members of the local press have lost sight of context.”
“[Journalism is] more than a profession or a job. It is a vocation that requires the passion to inform so that citizens can arrive at intelligent and informed decisions,” he said.
Businessweek Mindanao editor Nelson Constantino blamed the proliferation of lies on social media which he said “changed the paradigm”.
“The new generation of journalists has not been spared the massive misinformation that has flooded the World Wide Web. And the charlatans took advantage to sow lies. All of this has caused the spirit of press freedom fighters to decline,” he said.
Montalvan said the city’s new media leaders must think of programs “to instill in everyone’s hearts and minds what freedom of the press really is.” – Rappler.com
The author was president of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club from 1999 to 2001.