Friday, April 28, 2017

INFORMATION AND DEMOCRACY


True and timely information is considered as one of the principal means of knowledgeable and responsible democratic participation specifically on the part of the citizens in a democratic country.  Usually called “Freedom of Information” – this is precisely held as an imperative element of democracy, subject however to certain conditions specially those affecting the intelligence service in conjunction with national security.  Forms of information as well as instruments of communications are considered as a combined guarantee of true pluralism in a real democracy.  There is nothing like ignorance and falsity that undermine freedom of choice, that negate the principles and implications of democracy.

In this age of social communications through the use of social media, particular attention and pursuant action should be given to facilitate and promote not only the right ownership but also the proper use of these instruments of information/communication by means of just and appropriate laws.  In general, such legislative provisions should not allow their use particularly for demeaning human dignity or violating human rights.  As a matter of principle, no individuals or groups thereof, no entities or institutes may be allowed to use media contrary to social order, to ethical principles as well as to moral  norms – something that needs no detailed explanation and justification whereas otherwise, it is human dignity and the pursuant human rights that are usually violated by media abuse, not to mention social confusion generated by expert media manipulations of facts and falsehoods.  Means of social communications in the hands of those without conscience but immersed in social misconduct and maneuvered by evil agents equal the downfall of truth, the reign of falsity, the misery of democracy.

Among other obstacles that hinder the dissemination of truth and the knowledge of facts, special attention should be given to news media controlled by just a few people or groups of individuals with their own errant agenda in accord with their own but personal interests  and objectives.  Such a controlled media – specially so when it is the government itself that desires  and designs the control – has markedly dangerous effects to the democratic system.  What is detestable as well as dangerous is when media control becomes some kind of a partnership between a suspect government on one hand and avaricious financial entities on the other.  Duped, ignorant and thus misled, the losers at the end of such a collusion are none other than the citizens.  To be deceived and to be free – these do  not go hand-in-hand and neither do they promote democracy.  Wherefore:

a.  “The State recognizes the vital role of communication and information in nation-building.”(1987 Phil. Constitution, State Policies, Sec. 24)

b.  “Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State adopts and implements a policy of full disclosure of all its transactions involving public interests.”  (Ibid., Sec. 28)


c.  “The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized.  Access to official records, and to documents, and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.” (Ibid., Bill of Rights, Sec. 7)