5th National Press Congress


Atty. Dominador D. Buhain
(Delivered on the occasion of the 5th National Press Congress,
Teachers Camp, Baguio City)


Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to congratulate PAPI for once more staging a successful gathering of publishers and editors from all over the country under the theme: “Towards Stronger Initiatives in Peace, Culture and Development.”


Peace, culture and development can only be attained if they are founded on truth. Truth can be obtained only through untrammeled exercise of the freedom of expression.


To expound on the freedom of expression, may I quote Dina N. Malhotra of the Freedom of Indian Publishers:


“Freedom of the human spirit leads man to diversity. It is through the freedom of expression that the flowering of man’s personality takes place. The entire history of the progress of mankind shows that it is due to the fearless expression of great thinkers that we stand today at the pinnacle of our civilization and culture. Philosophers and scientists – Socrates and Galileo by their courageous expression of truth, as they perceived it, established the right of dissent in human society.


Democracy has lived by defending the freedom of expression. Dignity of man is nurtured when there is complete freedom of thought and its expression. And this has to be maintained and defended across all frontiers.


The basic postulate of publishing and editing in free countries under a democratic rule is that the citizen has a right to know everything. He is considered mature enough to sort out the truth from falsehood. Correspondingly, it is the duty of publishers and editors to place before the public all the information and ideas, which come to light without any fear.


Therefore, a genre of fearless publishers and editors has to come forward to publish the desired materials. These publishers are the torchbearers of the ideals of Freedom to Publish. If on the other hand, publishers become collaborators in perpetuating a close society, flowering of the human minds is stifled; dignity of man compromised and progress of mankind is impeded. Human beings have immense possibilities to develop and reach the skies and delve deep into unchartered oceans of knowledge still unfathomed. Scientists and psychologists tell us that the average person uses only a small percentage of his potential which is somewhere between 3% and 10%.


The extension of these immense possibilities is in the hands of those who disseminate information and knowledge. In their endeavor, the roles of the publishers and editors are very crucial. They open the door of knowledge to the people. Their roles are superior to the role of the electronic media which disseminate information to the people at a terrific speed and in enormous quantities so much so that as a matter of fact people get confused and flabbergasted. On the other hand, printed publications present well-developed specific and different points of views, which are born out of mature thinking of authors. Even a single idea in a well-organized setting can spark off a revolution.


Freedom to publish should be treated as a basis and sacred right as only this can lead to change. Publications are the most powerful weapons to change the world and lead mankind to the path of progress.


Publications provide keys to the opening of the ideas and the opener of these locks are the publishers and editors. The rights to freedom of expression and opinion are embedded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Freedom to publish can become vulnerable unless continuous efforts are made to safeguard it. It is to be an ongoing struggle for the defenders of the rights of freedom to publish because the curbs and challenges this freedom has to counter from many quarters and with changing pattern including the economic and social.


It is the freedom of the spirit which marking yearns for. The progress of society takes place only when the yearnings of the free spirit of man have a full sway without any encumbrance.


A political philosopher once said that “the home of my soul is in the State.” This may seem a romantic expression of the free will of man. But this is true because without the freedom of the spirit, a free man’s existence in society comes to naught. Freedom of expression becomes real when there is freedom to publish.


The State has to create conditions in which freethinking of its individuals can manifest through their writings and publications. The great Indian poet Jaurcate Rabindra Nath Tagore put it beautifully:


Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high, where knowledge is free. Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic wall, Where words come out from the depth of truth…” Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

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