Freedom of Speech in the Philippines

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FREEDOM OF SPEECH / EXPRESSION

Freedom of speech is the concept of the inherent human right to voice one's opinion publicly without fear of censorship or punishment. "Speech" is not limited to public speaking and is generally taken to include other forms of expression. The right is preserved in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is granted formal recognition by the laws of most nations. Nonetheless the degree to which the right is upheld in practice varies greatly from one nation to another. In many nations, particularly those with relatively authoritarian forms of government, overt government censorship is enforced. Censorship has also been claimed to occur in other forms (see propaganda model) and there are different approaches to issues such as hate speech, obscenity, and defamation laws even in countries seen as liberal democracies.

Article III Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines specifies that no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech or of expression. Some laws inconsistent with a broad application of this mandate are in force, however.[29]

For example
Certain sections of the Flag and Heraldic Code require particular expressions and prohibit other expressions

Title thirteen of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines criminalizes libel and slander by act or deed (slander by deed is defined as "any act ... which shall cast dishonor, discredit or contempt upon another person."), providing penalties of fine or imprisonment. In 2012, acting on a complaint by an imprisoned broadcaster who dramatised a newspaper account reporting that a particular politician was seen running naked in a hotel when caught in bed by the husband of the woman with whom he was said to have spent the night, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights ruled that the criminalization of libel violates freedom of expression and is inconsistent with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, commenting that "Defamations laws should not ... stifle freedom of expression" and that "Penal defamation laws should include defense of truth."

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“If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.” - Noam Chomsky

The freedom to express our thoughts is an important part of our individual identity. When we talk and write about our opinions we are contributing ideas and participating in society. Freedom of expression is covered in article 19 of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”. Freedom of expression is widely acknowledged as a basic human right that should be available to all, playing a crucial role in a fair and open society.

Many countries and organizations place limits on freedom of expression. These limitations can be a way of controlling people. Restricting voting rights, censoring speech and art and outlawing specific religious and political groups are some of the tools governments have used to control public opposition. Even societies that consider themselves free and democratic suppress opposing views. Consider your local newspaper; although you might expect objectivity, if you were to analyze the content, you might not find a variety of informed opinions and critiques. Editorial and news writers may be influenced by their own political views. In some places, reporters are trained to manipulate or omit information that could harm those in power.

Should there be no limits on freedom of expression? If we are entitled to express ourselves freely we must accept that others will express ideas very different from our own. This might include ideas that offend and possibly even...
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