Media is indeed dangerous

JUSTICE Secretary Leila De Lima’s decision to move the offices of reporters covering her department to an almost inaccessible area is a shameless attempt to control the flow of information if not an outright violation of the freedom of the press.

Although reporters covering the justice department were blindsided by De Lima’s decision, her move is not really surprising considering the lukewarm support of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III for the passage of the Freedom of Information Act despite his rhetoric concerning transparency in government.

Had the FOI been made into law, De Lima would be hard pressed to do what she had done because under this proposed law, information concerning a public office and officials (like the controversial justice secretary) and the manner the agency is managed are considered public property. The law is also very clear that the free flow of information is considered an important component of democracy and transparency in government.

I have learned from sources that De Lima was provoked to “exile” the reporters after they reported a story involving an anomaly in the Bureau of Corrections, one of the agencies under the justice department. I further learned that the department is trying very hard to sweep that story under the rug so to speak for still unknown reasons.

However, according to De Lima’s people, the reporters were moved to another place in the department compound (which is far from the DOJ administration offices) following a recommendation from the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency. The NICA, according to them, considered the presence of reporters near De Lima’s office and those of the other state prosecutors a security risk.

Perhaps De Lima or the NICA operatives are ignorant of Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America, and his take on press freedom.

Jefferson said “The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”  Jefferson added that “…liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”

Yes, the members of the Fourth Estate are threats—not to national security, but to the anti-democratic thinking of some and the ignorance that De Lima seems to love to perpetuate among the people.

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