Right of Reply Bill: Pimentel and Joker

I respect the views of Sens. Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. and Joker Arroyo on the right of reply bill, and while I am surprised that they are for the measure, I also understand that one’s (or even a senator’s) views are shaped by one’s milieu. It is in this sense that my viewpoint now (as a family man and a journalist) is much different from that when I was still a full-time activist.

The same goes for Pimentel and Arroyo. I once attended a lecture by the young Pimentel, then a human rights lawyer, when I was a freshman in college and became an instant fan. While that was in the waning years of martial rule, majority of the country’s intellectuals have still to find their voice in the defense and promotion of human rights—the most abused under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. Pimentel was in the minority.

The fight against the Marcos regime was not instant for many. It was more like a person opening his door and tiptoeing unto the street, getting the daring to pick up a placard only after seeing that others have done so already. Nene, the more popular Joker and many other civil rights crusaders in a way inspired us by their willingness to risk their lives for a cause.

But that was in another period. Pimentel and Arroyo have since gotten the prize of their sacrifices by being among the anti-Marcos personalities who have taken over the government. Different perspective, different standpoint. They who once waved the banner of civil liberties are now defenders of a bill that allows the scuttling of one of the hallowed freedoms—the one guaranteed to the press.

(I wrote this for my March 4, 2009 Candid Thoughts column)

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