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Loyalty to the truth

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The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) rightfully and strongly rejected last week China’s “false and baseless” claims that journalists manipulate the videos they recorded in the South China Sea to present the Philippines as a victim of its harassment in that part of the world.

“FOCAP takes deep offense at the insinuation that the press is a ‘troublemaker’ and in cahoots with the government to forward a political agenda,” said the association, whose members include both Filipinos and foreign nationals from around the world, some of whom have been embedded in Philippine missions.

It added that the claim of the Chinese embassy and Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying that the Philippines had journalists manipulate their footage is a “barefaced lie.”

FOCAP, as part of the larger tradition of free press in the Philippines, something that is yet to exist in China, has demonstrated its credibility in covering both domestic and geopolitical conflicts since its founding in 1974.

“A free and independent press reports not what they are told, but what they observe, framed by historical and political context,” FOCAP said.

It added that the footage seen in the press is vetted by multiple sources and newsrooms, and its work, which is carried by multiple media outlets, speaks for itself.

It stressed that the statements of the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman and embassy are an insult to the integrity of journalists and an alarming attempt to muzzle an independent press. “FOCAP will not be intimidated by threats and groundless attempts to smear its members’ reputation. We will continue to courageously cover developments and the impact of events in the South China Sea and across the region,” it added.

Just because the Chinese government has full control over their media and what it considers the “truth,” it doesn’t mean that the media in the rest of the world is as pliant. When they insinuate that the Filipino media will go as low as manipulating videos to present the Philippines as a victim of its unacceptable harassment in the West Philippine Sea, perhaps they are simply viewing our media through their authoritarian lens.

However, as the FOCAP has pointed out, the only loyalty of the free press in the rest of the world is to the truth, which is something Filipinos should be able to take pride in, as our media people continue the fight, not for our country in particular, but for our right to be informed of local and international developments and issues that impact our lives.

Let us continue to support the members of the media as they do their jobs, free from the influence of any government, and provide us with the information we need to know what is happening in our world.*

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