PRESS CHAMPION AND ADVOCATE

Statement of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility

THE Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility mourns the passing of former President Benigno “Noynoy”Aquino III.  We condole with his family and with the rest of the nation for our common loss.

Every death diminishes us all.  But it is specially heartbreaking when death claims an individual who was as honest, as incorruptible, as competent and as civilized as Noynoy Aquino. 

Among his accomplishments as president was nearly unprecedented economic growth and the resulting reduction in poverty incidence. Because he brought the Philippine case to the UN Arbitral Tribunal, he also successfully defended the country’s rights over the West Philippine Sea. Equally important, however, was his steadfast commitment to human rights and press freedom

Like other presidents before him, he too was critical of the press and media.  He displayed his pique over what he considered an inordinate focus on his love life. He was also acutely aware that in matters of policy, he could do no good in the eyes of some media who, in behalf of other regimes, were obviously biased against him and his administration.

And yet through the six years, he never threatened, insulted, or harassed journalists even in the face of the harshest criticism. Neither did he talk about barring any reporter from covering his office or shutting down any media organization. Instead he answered the hard questions as they came, rationally and with civility; and thereby demonstrated to the press, the nation and the world, how sincerely he believed in, and upheld, press freedom as a necessary pillar of democratic rule.

PNoy could not always hide his impatience, even his hurt over unfair coverage. But as burdened as he may have been with relentless media criticism, he was nevertheless their champion and their advocate. Therein lies the difference between the true leader and the false.