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Editorial | Lessons from Martial Law

The country commemorates the 34th anniversary of EDSA Revolution today, a non-working holiday, as per Proclamation No. 845 signed by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte last year, declaring the regular and special holidays in the country for the year 2020.

With the Senate hearing going on regarding the franchise of ABS-CBN, we take the liberty of printing what happened in the past, when media was curtailed during Martial Law.

“There are few lessons from martial law history that bear repeating.
First, when news is censored in an authoritarian society, rumors and gossip will proliferate because people become starved for information.

Second, when the mass media are muzzled, there is no check to government abuse and graft and corruption become rampant.

Third, when the press is gagged, it deteriorates. Journalists lose their initiative in gathering and commenting on the news, they lose their self-respect, and in the long run the press loses credibility. And without credibility the press is lost.

Fourth, when a government tries to hide the truth, it may succeed at first. But in the long run, the truth will come out from other sources. When that happens, people will lose their trust in the government. And when the government loses credibility, everything is lost.

Fifth, with the rise of modern communications technology, like the photocopying machine and video cassettes (in 1986), and the Internet and cell phones (in 2007), it is no longer possible for any government, however authoritarian, to impose complete or near complete censorship.

Finally, people will always demand to know the truth; they will eventually get it from whatever sources, by whatever means. And then the truth will make them free.”

(Reprinted from Mass Media and People Power: A Brief History of Philippine Mass Communication, New Day Publishers, 2014, by Crispin C. Maslog)

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