Kalayaan ay Karapatan: Exploring the Essence of Freedom
In the realm of advocating freedom as a fundamental human right, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom Philippine office has remained steadfast in its mission. With a dedication to working alongside grassroots and mid-level organizations, the Foundation has continuously championed freedom in various aspects of Filipino society, including politics, economics, civic participation, democracy, and sustainability.
Recently, the Foundation hosted the first of its bi-annual Alumni Gathering for 2023, an event that brought together Filipino alumni from the International Academy for Leadership (IAF), as well as friends and partners of the Foundation. The gathering aimed to shed light on different forms of freedom that hold particular relevance to the current political and social landscape of the country. Held during the month that commemorates Philippine independence, the event featured a distinguished lineup of experts and advocates who shared their insights on freedom from diverse perspectives.
The discussions revolved around three crucial aspects: freedom of mobility, freedom of the press, and freedom of information. These topics served as focal points to address the importance of social and political awareness in relation to freedom.
One of the notable talks during the event centered on freedom of mobility by Ira Cruz of AltMobility. The speaker delved into the significance of individuals' ability to move freely within their own country. Recognizing the impact of mobility restrictions on various aspects of life, such as economic opportunities and personal welfare, the talk shed light on the barriers that hinder individuals from being able to go from point a to point b with ease. By creating awareness around this issue, the speaker emphasized the need for policies that promote inclusive mobility and address the challenges faced by the common commuter.
Another crucial subject was freedom of the press addressed by PhilStar.com editor, Camille Diola. The gathering provided an opportunity to reflect on the state of press freedom in the Philippines. Camille highlighted the importance of a free press in upholding democracy, promoting transparency, and holding those in power accountable. Drawing attention to the challenges faced by journalists, such as threats, censorship, and attacks on press freedom, the talk emphasized the role of the media in fostering an informed and empowered citizenry. It called for greater protection and support for journalists to ensure a vibrant and independent press. Camille also touched on the tightening spaces where journalism can thrive given the current media saturation and its relationship with the political landscape. She cited the oppportunites for news outlets to foster partnerships with organizations that similarly uphold democratic values.
Freedom of information was also a key theme explored during the Alumni Gathering by former congressman and lead advocate for the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill, Erin Tanada. The discussion centered on the legislative history of the FOI bill and how it highlights the fundamental right of individuals to access information held by public authorities. The speaker underscored the role of transparency in governance, emphasizing how, similar to the role of the press, an informed citizenry is crucial for holding governments accountable and making informed decisions. The talk highlighted the importance of robust access to information laws and mechanisms that enable citizens to obtain vital information from the government. Cong. Erin, discussed the current state of the bill and how his advocacy lead to its implementation on several LGUs even if it remains dormant on the national level.
Throughout the event, the engaging panel discussions and thought-provoking talks resonated with the attendees. The dialogue between speakers and participants further underscored the significance of freedom as a human right and its impact on various aspects of society. It ignited a collective commitment to actively safeguard and promote freedom in all its forms.
The Alumni Gathering continues to provide a platform to celebrate and delve into the essence of freedom. With this year's focus on freedom of mobility, freedom of the press, and freedom of information, the event highlighted the importance of these fundamental rights in building a just and democratic society. By engaging experts and advocates in meaningful discussions, the gathering fostered a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities surrounding freedom in the Philippines. As we continue to navigate the complexities of our society, let us heed the call to protect and uphold the rights that enable us to thrive as free individuals. As the event's tagline promotes: Kalayaan ay karapatan—freedom is indeed and will always be a human right.