The Center of Liberalism and Democracy (CLD), in partnership with Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF), celebrates the 73rd anniversary of the declaration of Human Rights by launching the tenth installment of Freedom Spaces Initiatives entitled “Kwentong Tarong: Gaano ba ka-libre ang free speech and expression?” via Zoom, Dec. 9.
In a statement provided by CLD, ‘Tarong’ is a Visayan word that translates to upright, appropriate, straight, or correct; accordingly, the forum encourages its attendees to exercise their rights to free speech and expression responsibly.
Philip Joshua Leynes, CLD program officer, emphasized the current socio-political climate in the country as one of the reasons behind the webinar.
“Under the Duterte Administration, especially with the forming of the NTF-ELCAC and enactment of the Anti-Terror Law, we have been put under a very unnecessary and unconstitutional microscope. We have seen the demise of many human rights defenders, activists, artists, and journalists just because they stood their ground against the administration,” Leynes reiterated.
The webinar’s panel discussion, which was hosted by Rappler’s Head of Community Jules Guiang, was joined by various artists and writers such as Ralph Fonte (spoken word poet), Rob Cham (visual artist), Joel Pablo Salud and Che Sarigumba (authors and columnists), Alre Gayon (short filmmaker), Hershey Neri (content creator), Kein Dumlao (fashion designer), and Jewel Enrile (writer).
“Assembling the panel was challenging. We wanted to bring in progressive artists, writers, and content creators and diversify the panel. Identifying who to invite was a huge task but convincing them to join the discussion was an even bigger undertaking,” Leynes revealed.
The discussion had four rounds of questions answered by each artist, highlighting CLD’s goal of providing a platform for the discussion on red-tagging, censorship, expressing dissent, dealing with hate comments and trolls, and art being political.
The first two rounds of discussion delved into the artists’ creative processes, deciding on which content to write about and how they exercise their rights to free speech while gaining different reactions from the audiences of their work.
Meanwhile, the latter seeks to answer who appoints artists to be accountable for opening people’s minds through their art forms and how they balance exercising their freedom of speech and expression while maintaining responsibility and discipline.
“Magiging free lang ang isang expression and ang isang speech kung hindi mo ito pagsisisihan or kung wala kang tinatapakan na tao,” Dumlao said.
The event was live-streamed on the official Facebook pages of CLD and FNF Philippines: It’s All About Freedom, both with more than a thousand views.
Before this webinar, CLD has continuously held Freedom Spaces Initiatives related to human rights that inspire liberal democratic discourse, cultivate liberal consciousness, and introduce liberal values.