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Freedom and Responsibility

Three events this week remind us about freedom and responsibility: The 38th year anniversary of martial law (September 21), the Press Freedom Week that kicked off last Sunday, and, the submission to P.Noy of the IIRC (Incident Investigation and Review Committee) report about the August, 23, 2010 Rizal Park hostage-taking incident.

Do the Filipino people still remember martial law declared by President Ferdinand E. Marcos in 1972?

The political comeback of 3 of Marcos' family- Imelda, his wife; Imee, his eldest daughter; and his son, Bongbong - has been interpreted (of course, most especially by the Marcos' family) that the Filipino people have moved on beyond Martial Law.

Is that a fact? Have the Filipino people forgotten the Marcos dictatorial regime? Have the Filipino people, especially the victims of the martial law regime, forgotten and forgiven the conjugal dictators and their cronies?

The families of the victims of that abusive regime have certainly not forgotten. They remind all not to forget " the heroism of those who risked their lives fighting for freedom and human rights ." The families are still looking forward to the day that their loved ones will still be given justice.

They ask now that another Aquino is in power, will the victims of martial law, including Ninoy Aquino, the father of P.Noy assassinated during the Marcos regime, finally be given justice and closure?

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" Yes, it is time to move on and close the dark chapters of our nation's history but with justice rendered to the countless hapless victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime." The victims' families want all to remember that "ang hindi lumingon sa pinanggagalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan. Katarungan para sa mga biktima ng diktadura. It is time to settle the sins of the past."

Had Martial Law continued till today, there would be no celebration of Press Freedom this week. Press Freedom was among the earliest freedoms curtailed during the Marcos' martial law regime. Freedom of speech and assembly were also suppressed. Only the Marcos-controlled media were allowed to broadcast controlled news. Congress was closed and for a time, schools were closed. Curfew was declared in most parts of the country. Even freedom of movement was controlled.

Ninoy Aquino's assassination broke the chain of imprisonment Filipinos experienced during the overstaying Marcos dictatorial regime. People's Power ended the rule of the abusive dictator. There was much thanksgiving and celebration all over for the world to witness - the Filipino people's expression of their hard-earned freedom in 1986.

Our people, especially our children, have to be taught the very valuable lessons of that oppressive authoritarian regime which overstayed from 1972 to the early months of 1986. Our children also have to remember the heroism and the empowerment of our people in facing the tanks, being at EDSA, defying threats to their own lives, to unite with the rest of the Filipinos in reclaiming back their cherished freedom!

Not only families but institutions like the church, the schools and media should also do their share in making our people and especially our children remember and learn and cherish the importance of freedom and the rejection of abusive dictatorship and authoritarianism.

Media fully understands its role for the continuation of freedom. Media also understands its role for public service.

However, with the just-released IIRC report which recommended that several members and networks of media be included among those to be held responsible for the death of the Hong Kong tourists and the hostage taker during the bungled hostage drama, amid debates and contestation, media is also ready to do a self-reexamination of the real boundary between freedom and responsibility especially when the precious lives of people, whether they be Filipinos or foreigners, are at serious risk.

Within this week that reminds us all about the true precious value of freedom and responsibility, may our people never allow any abusive dictatorship to ever reign again in this country. May our people hold on to and defend the present freedoms that we are blessed to experience, and may freedom always be tempered and balanced with responsibility and service for all.

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