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Press Freedom in the Philippines is a huge joke


You’ve probably heard about this from a few days back. But still.

A mural depicting the history of press freedom made by the Neo-Angono artists in the Philippines was censored by the National Press Club before it was presented to President GMA. How ironic that the NPC’s “press freedom” commission was censored by none other than themselves. Truth be told, the word is not “censorship.” It leans a little bit more closely to “defacement.”

The final mural, which was submitted to NPC on October 24, shows a man reading the latest news on journalists’ killings while press freedom icons from the past and present converge around him. In one scene, Marcelo H. del Pilar is seen with fellow editor Mariano Ponce while rooting for cigarette butts in a garbage can under the streetsign La Solidaridad. Near the two, Filipino revolutionary Emilio Jacinto sells copies of the newspaper “Ningning o Liwanag” whose headlines proclaim the declaration of martial law while an incensed Eggie Apostol walks past. Perhaps the most arresting image is that of the late Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. talking to National Hero Jose Rizal while the latter reads a newspaper article on the disappearance of Jonas Burgos, son of press freedom icon Joe Burgos.

“Isn’t it ironic that an institution such as the NPC would cause the censorship of a work that they themselves commissioned purportedly to promote press freedom? Isn’t the freedom of expression of the artist bound up with the very press freedom that they supposedly uphold? Aren’t these alterations a clear violation of the rights of authors/artists protected by the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines?” the group said in a statement.


I can’t believe it. More photos of the alterations here. Neal Cruz’s piece talks about it more here.

By Jayvee Fernandez

Jayvee Fernandez is a tech enthusiast, EAN certified SCUBA Diver and underwater photographer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. His photos and videos have appeared in various international and local publications including Random House Germany, Discovery Channel Canada, and CNN.

5 replies on “Press Freedom in the Philippines is a huge joke”

I guess it shows that censorship can be achieved by using not only the steel glove of the military but also by the velvet glove of political mendicants and operators or one might even observe the white laced glove of powerful interest groups.

Such acts can only be countered ironically with a form of treatment applicable to vampires by bringing the issue to light. In a matter of speaking.

A bad thing about this is that the alteration job is shoddy. Not that a perfectly artistic censorship is acceptable, but this rubs the salt on the open wounds of the Angono artists.

Unfortunately the truth that belies this act will never be revealed, and that is the fact that the artists were commissioned to make a very specific mural, and were told not to put material like that in. Whether or not you agree with The NPC group that commissioned this piece is moot. The artists were hired to perform a very specific task, and they did not perform it to the degree required by their employer. The employer is within his rights to change the said artwork to reflect his original intent in having it commissioned.

Now if this painting was made Privately, displayed in a gallery, and someone in the government ordered it to be defaced, it would have been another thing entirely. That is censorship.

If the artists who made the mural didn’t agree with the NPC’s princinples, they should have simply refused to paint the mural.

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