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Aquino cites role of 'mosquito press' in Martial Law


President Benigno S. Aquino III recently lauded the mosquito press like Malaya for its crucial role in educating and informing the people during the dark days of the dictatorship.

In a speech at the 28th anniversary of Malaya Business Insight at the Manila Polo Club, the President paid tribute to the newspaper for its fearless reporting during martial law regime of former President Ferdinand Marcos.

“We are not just celebrating 28 years of Malaya today; we are celebrating Freedom — the freedom of the people, and of the press, to be made aware of events that affect their lives. Today, we commemorate how Malaya, together with the Filipino people, chose to fight back and rebuild an ailing country,” he said.

The President said that because of Malaya’s existence, democracy has been returned to the people and they’ve been able to inform the public on the real status of the country in the midst of dictatorial rule.

“As a student, I was made to read newspapers and be informed. But during martial law, what you could only be sure of as true in the papers is the date and the movie listings, because the rest of it was propaganda,” he recalled.

He mentioned that aside from his late father, martyred Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., other oppositionists during that time were Pepe Diokno, journalist Chino Roces, Nap Rama and Teodoro Locsin. It was at that time Joe Burgos started a small newspaper, the We Forum that earned the distinction “mosquito press.” It was later renamed Malaya.

“We Forum, and later Malaya, was a catalyst in this historic struggle. It was one of the few voices brave enough to report my father’s murder and trigger the eventual demise of the dictatorship,” he said referring to its role when Senator Ninoy Aquino was slain at the tarmac of the Manila International Airport (now NAIA) upon returning from his exile in the United States on August 21, 1983.

“Malaya is a continuation of that proud heritage. In the midst of darkness, your newspaper was there to bring forth light and to tell the truth,” he continued.

Quoting his late father, the President underscored the importance of the mosquito press in a free society.

“According to my father, a free media is indispensable if a democracy is to function efficiently, if it is to be real. The people, who are sovereign, must be adequately informed all the time,” he said.

He said the “mosquito press” became loud enough to be heard in every corner of the country to inform Filipinos of wrongdoing in government and that a unified movement was needed for change to happen.

The 28th anniversary of Malaya Business Insight was a small gathering of selected personalities from previous administrations, business leaders, friends, families and relatives of one of the pillars of the Philippine media, Jake Macasaet, publisher of Malaya and president of the Philippine Press Institute.

“When I was invited to this gathering, I told myself, "How could I say no to Manong Jake (Macasaet) who is one of the pillars of the Philippine media?" And, also, how can I possibly say no to this opportunity to pay tribute to the many heroes of the dark martial law era,” he admitted.

As the dark days of dictatorial rule are gone, the President assured that the present government will not tolerate muzzling the media or restricting them again.

“Rest assured, I will continue to do my job and follow through on what I pledged to our people. At the same time, I am counting on you to remain the publication that our people can believe in. I also ask you to be fair — to me, yes, but more importantly, to the Filipino people,” the President said.
“The Filipino people need and deserve an honest and transparent media — one that makes it easier for us all to work together and to achieve a high level of public discourse, which will, in the end, work for everyone’s benefit,” he added. (PNA)

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