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On Inquirer.net’s taking down of Paloma articles

On July 4, readers trying to access articles of Inquirer.net on the rape of the late actress Pepsi Paloma will be redirected to a statement of the management of the online news organization.

It says: “The articles on the Pepsi Paloma case are currently under review and are unavailable at the moment.”

We are saddened that today will forever be remembered as one of the darkest days in the annals of Philippine journalism.

It is the day when the online arm of the newspaper long regarded as one of the beacons of press freedom in the country caved in to the demands of Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

It is the day when Inquirer.net disowned its own editorial policies and standards – and its writers – by willingly taking down stories it had posted as far as four years ago that harp on Sotto’s alleged role in the cover-up of the rape of Paloma.

It is the day the online news portal, one of the pioneers of the digital age of Philippine journalism, proved it was not equal to the vision of the founders of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, who, together with other freedom-loving journalists, defied the Marcos dictatorship to fulfill their profession’s creed – to serve the people’s right to know without fear or favor.

The news outfit’s attempt at explanation makes no sense. Why take down, even temporarily, articles the outfit itself vetted and uploaded four years ago?

More so, it had already earlier announced that the articles were to be reviewed and even declared it would hold off posting materials from the author, Rodel Rodis.

At a time when freedom of the press and of expression has come under the worst attacks since the Marcos regime, this humiliating self-censorship betrays not only the spirit in which the Inquirer was founded, it betrays a profession whose practitioners have fended and continue to fight off all attempts to muzzle it even if it has cost our ranks 185 lives since 1986.

This is a day of mourning, yes.

And yet, it is also a day of affirmation. Let us, the community of independent and freedom-loving Filipino journalists, resolve to strengthen our ranks even more and resist all attempts to prevent us from fulfilling our duty to serve the people’s right to know and be their watchdog against government’s abuses.

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