MANILA - Women journalists who witnessed censorship during the Marcos dictatorship said they have been experiencing "deja vu" under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The incarceration of administration critics is one thing in common between the two leaders, veteran broadcast journalist Ces Oreña-Drilon said in a forum in the University of the Philippines, Diliman co-organized by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.
"If we're looking for indications that history is repeating itself, we do not have to look far. Look at the case of [Senator] Leila de Lima," she said, referring to the one of Duterte's vocal critics now detained for alleged links to drug operations in the national penitentiary.
The cases against De Lima were filed months after she spearheaded a Senate probe into alleged extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the President's war on drugs. When she was head of the Commission on Human Rights, she also investigated the so-called Davao Death Squad linked to then-Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Another reason for the feeling of deja vu is the controversy over fake news. Fake news was also rampant under President Ferdinand Marcos' rule, veteran journalist Chuchay Molina-Fernandez said.
"'Yung fake news, talagang noon pa meron na 'yun. In 1985, during the annual gathering of the [ruling party] Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, they gave out press kits that said Malaya [newspaper] was sued for P200 million by a group of Marcos cronies led by the late Antonio Floirendo Sr.," said Fernandez, the first editor-in-chief of Ang Pahayagang Malaya, known as an opposition newspaper during the Marcos years.
"We eventually found out that [the case was never filed because] the cronies quarreled among themselves after they found out that to file a P200 million [complaint], they have to file at least a P1 million filing fee," she said.
The Duterte administration has been accused of propagating fake news. Independent media group VERA Files says no less than President Duterte is the top purveyor of fake news, a claim which Presidential Communications Secretary Martian Andanar denies.
Marcos may have not shared Duterte's penchant for the use of vulgar language in public speeches, but the two strongmen's messages against the media had chilling effects, the journalists said.
"The media, every strongman... believes [he] must own it. If not own it, control it, and if not that, destroy it," Pep and Yes! Magazine editor-in-chief Jo Ann Maglipon, who was a campus journalist during the Marcos era, said.
As "history repeats itself," present-day journalists should not forget what the media back in the Marcos era did to survive the dictatorship, the veteran newswomen said.
"The pressure and the chilling effect did not leave when the Marcoses left," multi-awarded journalist Cheche Lazaro said.
"Incidents that happened during that time seem to recur during this time. We must never let go of the ability to hold the line and be able to push back and say, 'We are not taking this shit'," Lazaro said.