​DREAM BIG | A free press for national progress

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Friday, April 7, 2017

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THERE is a reason why Panay News is the premier news daily in Western Visayas. Thirty-six years after its founding on April 7, 1981, Panay News remains committed to its values of professionalism and its mission “to gather and spread information that educates, moves, and inspires readers” (underscoring mine).

So I wish to congratulate the management and staff of Panay News on their 36th year of public service! I am truly honored to have joined your pages this year!

Panay News strives to achieve the ideal balance between the proclaimed tasks of the press in a democracy: to serve as watchdog against abuse of government power and to contribute to nation building.

In a democracy, the press plays an important function in providing a venue to check the abuses of government. They do this by providing truthful information about issues so that citizens can actively participate in governance.

Here, the press plays a dual role: check government and educate the people. 

During my 21 years in public service, I have always respected the role of the press to provide checks and balance by reporting the facts to the people. But, as some of you dear readers might recall, I have also been at the receiving end of some false and unfair reporting. 

This brings up the double-edged sword that is the newspaper business. On one hand, we acknowledge the role played by a free press in a democratic society but on the other hand we also need to admit that some newspapers abuse this freedom by publishing vicious lies and gossips that tend to mislead rather than educate the public.

That is why it is important for the press to keep that goal in mind — educate the public. Criticisms are part and parcel of public service but they should not be designed to destroy a person, rather, criticisms should be able to contribute to making our collective lives better.

This is what I believe to be the most important part of the role of the press: to contribute to nation-building. All of us Filipinos — government, civil society, business, the religious, the general public and the media — have a responsibility to contribute to national progress. 

That is what patriotism and good citizenship entail: to consecrate ourselves to the service of the country.

Last Dec. 6, 2016, during the centennial celebration of my alma mater, the University of the Philippines-College of Business Administration, I was invited to deliver a talk precisely on this topic, “On Service to the Country.”

I emphasized in my speech that serving the country is not for public servants alone. No one person or group has the monopoly of serving the country. The arena within which one can serve the country is not limited to government service or the so-called “parliament of the streets.” The world is big enough for our good intentions and patriotic endeavors.

Speaking the truth, educating the reading public, upholding professionalism and journalistic excellence are just some of the ways the press have been serving our country. Others may put up a business, pay taxes correctly, employ Filipinos, give them the benefits they deserve. Still others might go to foreign lands to provide for their families and at the same time help the Philippine economy through their remittances.

Making sure that our country achieve progress is the responsibility of us all — including the press. 

I am glad that Panay News has, for 36 years, been a fervent contributor to the progress of Iloilo, of Western Visayas and the country, in general. Presidents, governors, congresspersons, and mayors change but I am impressed that your commitment to your ideals when you started as a struggling newspaper remains steadfast now that you are the “Number 1 News Daily” in the region./PN




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