SunStar Eye: Cebu Press Freedom at 30

AFTER a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Cebu Press Freedom Week celebration returned to mostly in-person events from Sept. 17-24, 2022.

The 30th staging of the celebration featured forums on cyber libel, cybersecurity, fighting disinformation and historical revisionism and what’s in store for Philippine media under the new administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

The week also saw the annual election of officers of the Cebu Federation of Beat Journalists; the unveiling of the statue of press freedom martyr Antonio Abad Tormis at the Museo Sugbo, along with the busts of early-Cebu journalists Vicente Rama and Vicente Sotto and broadcaster Bobby Nalzaro, prominent in the last three decades; as well as editors’ lunch events and even a volleyball tournament.

Cebu Press Freedom Week is held every September in the week where Sept. 21 falls because that is the day that President Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr., father of the country’s current president, declared martial law in 1972. The martial law declaration was immediately followed by Marcos’ order transferring all powers to himself as president and subsequently the first instruction for the military to take over private media facilities, thus making journalists among martial law’s first victims.

Cebu Press Freedom Week is held yearly to remind citizens that martial law led to the most flagrant violations of press freedom and free speech and that it could happen again if they are not vigilant.