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Philippine Govt censure prompts Archbishop's free speech call

Former Philippine Bishops' Conference president Archbishop Oscar Cruz has criticised the State Department of Justice for threatening television network ABC with possible criminal charges for disseminating "false news or information" concerning the results of the recently concluded elections.

The television station is being accused of publishing the results of a preliminary count of votes showing actor Fernando Poe Jr. to be the winner of the country's election.

Archbishop Cruz issued a statement through the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) media office yesterday, stating: "It is dangerous to hide the truth. It is a big mistake to curtail rightful media freedom. It is costly to suppress media outlets."

According to Archbishop Cruz, media is either free or not, there is no middle ground.

Controlling or gagging the media is the first sign that comes from an emerging authoritarian, even dictatorial form of government, he said. He praised the television network for pursuing the truth in the face of threats from those in power.

Backlash on media stirs Archbishop to protect free speech ( 19/5/04)

Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines | Archbishop Oscar Cruz
Philippine Bishops issue elections pastoral statement (CathNews 23/5/04)

20 May 2004