Why do we need a national bloggers’ association?
One major rationale that I would like to discuss now is this: the preservation of the rights of bloggers as human beings and as citizen journalists. An association that is national in character and enjoys recognition by Filipino bloggers can have the mandate to uphold these rights. It would be able to stand by bloggers (members or otherwise) facing rights abuses such as, among other things, plagiarism, censorship and frivolous libel cases. Heaven forbid that Filipino bloggers begin to be at the receiving end of what our oppposite numbers are facing in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia….
I’m not saying this level of maturity in an organization can be attained right off the bat. No, it will take much time and energy. But the groundwork must be laid down already if it is to be given the chance to reach it.
Some might scoff at the idea of bloggers in Pasig or Iloilo or General Santos getting persecuted, as in the case of Chiranuch Premchaiporn of Bangkok or Sultan al-Khalaifi of Doha, Qatar. We enjoy free expression here, don’t we? Yes… and no. Keep in mind that our country carries the burden of having the most number of journalists killed in action in the world.
An increasing number of bloggers (and observers) has been proclaiming how impactful blogs and bloggers have become in the Philippines. The fact alone that the major media outlets have now made it a regular thing to have bloggers as resource persons points to the mainstreaming of bloggers and their online activities. The coming-of-age of bloggers, if you will. That’s the good part.
The potential bad part is this. A number of our politicians are showing tendencies of emulating our neighbors’ own government leaders, what with the proliferation of anti-privacy and dangerously Big-Brother-esque bills in Congress; e.g., the proposed prepaid SIM registration bill, the so-called cybercrime prevention bills, among others. These politicians are themselves coming to appreciate just how powerful our voices can be — what more if we were organized? I wouldn’t be surprised if I found out that these politicians, too keenly aware of our potential, were devising ways to stunt our growth. To nip us in the bud, so to speak. Think Freedom of Information Act and why it’s being eased out.
We cannot let our guard down. We must come together as a single voice in order to project unity of purpose and principles. That way, we can achieve things for the common good. We may be of different minds in terms of belief systems, but if we all shared a dream of seeing a more progressive Philippines, then our differences wouldn’t matter. Along the way, however, we need to safeguard our rights in the difficult process of contributing to nation-building.
Owing to the fact that not one of the journalist killings since Gloria Arroyo’s regime has been solved, there surely are unseen operators in society at large that want to perpetuate the status quo. There are elusive forces out there that keep the powerful in power and the poor wallowing in poverty. They pose a potential threat to our safety, to our freedom.
It may be that not many Filipino bloggers are involved in advocacy journalism, but there are those who are, and there will be others to come. A national organization of bloggers, if it had the mandate, could act as a deterrent against unscrupulous elements who might attempt to silence their activism. Furthermore, such an entity could interface with like-minded organizations around the world, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, thus providing itself with a layer of security when positive synergies ensue.
Standing alone, a blogger could also have a significant impact upon society, could also protect himself from physical or pscyhological attack. But standing with peers in an organization, the impact would be more reverberating, and the need for self-preservation may not be necessary anymore.
It was nobody’s intention to polarize the blogging community. Although, I suppose it’s not surprising that it has sparked debates; we are, after all, an argumentative bunch. The intent behind the idea to form a national bloggers association was borne out of a desire to create a nationwide community of bloggers. So, let’s please continue the dialogues and, hopefully, we might arrive at the answer not to ‘Should we or shouldn’t we have an association?’, but to ‘What kind of association should we form?’.
To participate in the ongoing discussions via Twitter, please monitor and use this hashtag: #nbaph.
As I’ve said previously, the proposed association need not be all-encompassing in terms of membership. A blogger who opts out shouldn’t necessarily feel left out, he/she should not be alienated. The association, in my opinion, should protect the rights of every blogger, member or not. Perhaps members would benefit from, say, discounts for seminars and such (they’d be paying membership dues, after all), but the overarching purpose of the organization should benefit all Filipino bloggers.Read the Blogger’s Manifesto