The potent bite of the 'Mosquito Press' 1

The potent bite of the 'Mosquito Press'

By Ellen T. Tordesillas

Posted at Mar 04 2015 02:28 AM | Updated as of Mar 05 2015 03:06 AM

Congratulations to JL Burgos for bringing to the screen an important chapter in our history of struggle for press freedom.

“Portraits of Mosquito Press" documents the struggle for press freedom at the time when the country was still in the grip of the Marcos dictatorship.

“Mosquito Press” was Marcos’ belittling of the small, independent newspapers which he allowed to operate to give a semblance of press freedom under his autocratic rule.

The small, independent newspapers led by We Forum, owned and edited by Jose Burgos, Jr., were called the “alternative press.” Alternative to the establishment press owned by Marcos cronies and relatives and toed the government line that Marcos was the savior of the Philippines.

We Forum was critical of Marcos. When asked by international media about issues raised in We Forum, Marcos dismissed it as nothing but the handiwork of the “mosquito press.” In effect, they are just mosquitos. Nothing that he cannot swat easily.

Later, Marcos would realize that mosquito bites can be potent.

Edith Burgos recalled that there was one press conference where Marcos held a copy of We Forum and angrily declared,” I will make the publisher eat this.”

That must have been the article exposing some of the war medals of Marcos as fake based on the research of Bonifacio Gillego.

Finally, Marcos was feeling the pain of the mosquito bites and decided to swat We Forum. It happened Dec. 7, 1982, when a team led by Col. Rolando Abadilla, then intelligence chief of the Metrocom, raided the offices and printing press of the WE Forum padlocked both sites.

Joe Burgos and his father Jose Sr., and several columnists and newspaper staffers were arrested and jailed.

The Burgos family had another publication--Malaya (Free), a Tagalog newspaper. Using the publication permit of Malaya, the Burgos family continued the journalistic crusade started by We Forum.

More alternative publications later came out.

Marcos was ousted in Feb. 1986.

“Portraits of Mosquito Press" was shown at Bantayog ng mga Bayani last Saturday. JL Burgos, son of Jose and Edith Burgos, and brother of the missing Jonas Burgos, said they are arranging more screenings.

Hopefully, today’s young people would watch it to better appreciate the freedom that they now enjoy.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.