This week we salute a friend and a colleague whom the news reported as, “A Filipino won one of the most prestigious global awards for journalists for her resistance to ‘financial, political, economic or religious pressures or because of the values and rules that enable them to resist’ in reporting on issues that are sensitive in the Philippines.”
Unlike many Filipinos who excel (under an atmosphere of new-found freedoms) and are recognized for their endeavors abroad, veteran journalist Inday Espina-Varona was awarded the Prize for Independence by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in London (UK) last week for simply being the dedicated independent and hardworking journalist at home.
RSF, described on its website as an international NGO with consultative status in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), led by an International Council “Made up of men and women who have distinguished themselves in the field of human rights, in particular (the) freedom of expression…”, and now armed with the lessons of 30 years experience at defending freedom of information as far as it can reach in the global community.
It values that people, “Deprived of knowledge that is essential for managing their lives, denied their very existence, they are prevented from living in pluralist political systems in which factual truth serves as the basis for individual and collective choices.”
It sees the “Freedom of information as fundamental in any democracy, but nearly half of the world’s population has no access to freely-reported news and information.”
“Freedom of expression and information is the first and most important of freedoms. How can we combat atrocities against civilians, tackle the tragedy of child soldiers, defend women’s rights or defend our environment if journalists aren’t free to report the facts, draw attention to abuses and appeal to the public’s conscience?”
Inday, in her acceptance of the award, shared it with her colleagues, and expressed, “If I am independent, it is because there are colleagues and fellow citizens who fight for rights and freedoms, who refuse to be silent in the face of thousands of murders and other injustices, who fight on despite threats, arrests and torture, whose words and deeds speak from beyond the grave.”
At this juncture, as we reflect on issues put into focus by the national day to fight violence against women, and the upcoming observance of the Ampatuan massacre where more than 30 journalists were among the 58 massacred in one single event in an attempt to prevent a free people’s choice in the elections.
Your newspaper continues to work for and hope that every journalist would grow and mature with the courage to pursue the Truth, to stand by the people’s individual and collective right to the Freedom of expression and information especially in these very trying times dominated by corruption, militarism and tyranny in government. Be among those Journalists who strive to ‘Serve The People.’# nordis.net