Press Release
August 5, 2012


Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, PDP Laban President, today stressed the importance of protecting freedom of the press in the country. He explained that the media play an important role in ensuring transparency and accountability by providing information to the public.

"If democracy is indeed a government of the people, by the people and for the people," Pimentel said in statement, "then the media plays a critical role as intermediary between the people and the government." Pimentel added that the media has the responsibility to inform the public and the power to shape public opinion.

Pimentel issued the statement amidst the controversy surrounding the remarks of President Benigno Aquino III during an event hosted by a major TV news program where he directly criticized one of its anchors, former Vice President Noli de Castro, for his bias. De Castro, who served under the Gloria Arroyo presidency, was called out by the President for his alleged penchant to focus on the bad news about his administration.

A number of commentators have said that criticisms from the 'most powerful person in the country' might send a chilling effect to media practitioners. This was not the first time the President has expressed his dismay over what he called as "biased" media reporting.

In his statement, Pimentel admitted that the media is 'some sort of a double bladed sword.' "It can strengthen and deepen democracy but media can also be used as a tool for negative propaganda and tarnish the image of public figures."

But Pimentel stressed that the response to this is 'self-regulation' rather than state regulation. "We need a free press that will not be afraid to tell the truth even if from time to time they commit errors of judgment."

Pimentel urged media organizations to take the President's comments as a challenge. "The criticism from the President should not send a 'chilling effect' to the media it should force them into a process of self-reflection on their role in our democracy and the need to 'police their ranks.'"

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