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Filipino journalists launch book on Marcos dictatorship

As press freedom comes under pressure, journalists want to show how oppression of yesterday compares with that of today.

Journalist Maria Ceres Doyo speaks during the launch of a collection of reports during the years of dictatorship in the Philippines. (Photo by Andrea Maxene Punzalan)

Challenged by what several sectors in the Philippines described as a growing threat to press freedom, a group of veteran journalists has launched this week a compilation of reports written in the waning years of the Marcos dictatorship more than 30 years ago.

Opinion writer Maria Ceres Doyo, editor of the compilation titled "Press Freedom Under Siege: Reportage that Challenged the Marcos Dictatorship," said the book is "quite timely considering the challenges that media practitioners are going through now."

The book is dedicated to the late Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, former editor of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and to Filipino journalists killed "in the line of duty" in the past 30 years since the so-called people power revolution that ousted former dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

Doyo told in an interview that she hopes more people would know about what journalists went through during the 20-year rule of Marcos "and what [they] are going through now ... [so] that history does not repeat itself."

She said she continues to hope "in the power of the truth" despite the challenges.

"We just keep on doing what we know best, writing the truth no matter who is in power. Keep on digging, investigating, keeping faith in the power of the word," added Doyo.

Journalist Jo-Ann Maglipon, who has several articles in the book, said nobody wrote about the "internal dialogues of the writers and publishers back then."

"[The journalists] did their dying in private," said Maglipon.

"To see a gathering of literature produced during martial law as no more than dormant literature for picking up, or not, is to miss the point of looking back," she said, adding that a "strongman rises again."

"To look back is to move forward with fewer mistakes, and literature has already been written to get us there," said Maglipon.

President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly attacked the media and press freedom, accusing practitioners of being biased and corrupt, even prohibiting several journalists from covering events at the presidential palace.

The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines says 12 journalists have been killed in just two years during the Duterte administration.

Union president, Nonoy Espina, said the government, through its pronouncements, has also been "trying to divide the people to fight against the media, to fight against the truth."

In 2018, the Philippines ranked fifth in the Global Impunity Index, which calculated the number of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country’s population.

Source: UCAN

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