Secretary Coloma bids goodbye to media: Protect freedom of the press and expression

MANILA — Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. on Tuesday bid farewell to journalists and reporters whom he had worked with for the past six years.

In his last press briefing before leaving his post as spokesperson of outgoing President Benigno S. Aquino III, Secretary Coloma expressed his gratitude to the members of the Malacañang Press Corps, a group of reporters covering the President, for helping inform the public about the government’s reform programs and policies.

“Sa pamamagitan ninyo, naiparating ng pamahaalan sa mga mamamayan ang balita at impormasyon hinggil sa mga mahahalagang polisiya, programa at patakarang hinubog at ipinatupad tungo sa patuloy na pag-unlad ng ating bansa,” he said.

“Sa bawat oras, araw, at linggo — 24 by 7 by 52 — matiyaga ninyong sinubaybayan ang mga aktibidad at pahayag ng Pangulo, hinggil sa kanyang tuloy-tuloy at walang humpay na pagtutok sa lahat ng kaganapan at usaping hinaharap ng bawat Pilipino, sa lahat ng sulok ng daigdig,” he added.

The Palace official pointed out that the government and the media should not become enemies and could help each other for the country’s welfare.

He underscored the importance of understanding context and perspective when reporting news.

“While it is true that it is the duty of media to be a watchdog of the public against possible government abuse, it is equally true that media can be a critical partner of government in public communication,” he said.

He then called on the media to continuously uphold freedom of expression and democracy, recounting the hardship of being robbed of such freedom in one’s own country during the Martial Law regime.

“In my younger days, I experienced first-hand the loss of my personal freedom as a political detainee under Martial Law. As a campus journalist, I witnessed a dark period in our history when citizens were deprived of freedom of expression and of the press,” he said.

“We must not drop our guard nor waver in our vigilance. Never again should there be prior restraint on the exercise of freedom of expression or of the press,” he added.

Coloma also took the opportunity to thank some of the officials who had helped him maintain a good relationship with the press, namely, Undersecretary for Media Relations Renato Marfil and his Assistant Secretary Paulo Espiritu, Undersecretary for Finance Jess Yu and Special Assistant Zandro Sison.

The outgoing Secretary said he is looking forward to spending quality time with his family as he leaves the government.

One of his plans is to go back to teaching.

President Aquino is set to step down from office on Thursday. PNA/northboundasia.com