Voices amidst the noise

By Herman M. Lagon

THE FREEDOM of expression stands out as a core democratic principle, especially in a world filled with diverse ideas and opinions. Justice Marvic Leonen’s insights are especially relevant in the Philippines. It is not just a fundamental right but serves as the groundwork for other freedoms in our society, aiding in transparent governance and the pursuit of truth.

Central to freedom of expression is its key role in democracy. Leonen emphasizes the duty of both traditional and modern journalists to help the public differentiate truth from falsehood. With the rise of social media, distinguishing real news from fake has become even more challenging. Both journalists and responsible internet users need to act as guardians of truth. Their efforts lead to a better-informed public capable of making sound democratic decisions.

Justice Leonen, drawing from US Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, points out the importance of open discourse. A variety of opinions is essential for a healthy democracy. Yet, there is a challenge: louder voices might drown out quieter ones, and the truth does not always win. This highlights the journalist’s role, particularly in today’s digital age: to maintain a fair platform where all ideas can be freely shared and evaluated on merit.

Leonen’s emphasis on “real press” over casual social media posts is a call to consider the ethics of journalism. Genuine journalism is more than just news-sharing; it is about truth, balance, and accountability. In a time when any story can go viral, real journalists ensure the information they share is accurate and reliable. They are not just reporters but active contributors, guiding society with well-researched insights.

During uncertain times, Leonen warns of the dangers of unchecked power and populist narratives. Journalists have the crucial task of holding those in authority accountable and defending democratic values. Their unwavering dedication ensures democracy’s survival against challenges.

Justice Leonen’s observations underscore that freedom of expression is not just a right but an essential tool for democracy and truth. In the Philippines, as elsewhere, the freedom of the press acts as democracy’s safeguard, promoting progress and pointing the way to a brighter future.


Doc H fondly describes himself as a ‘student of and for life’ who, like many others, aspires to a life-giving and why-driven world that is grounded in social justice and the pursuit of happiness. His views herewith do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions he is employed or connected with.