Lobregat reminds bloggers that freedom comes with responsibility PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 31 October 2010 17:50

Mayor Celso Lobregat yesterday reiterated his commitment to freedom of expression but stressed anew that with freedom comes responsibility.

“One thing that makes blogs so interesting is it allows for freedom of expression.  One can speak his mind about things that affect him, either positively or negatively," Mayor Lobregat, speaking before participants to the 4th Mindanao Bloggers’ Summit at the Garden Orchid Hotel yesterday morning, said.

However, he continued “some people do not realize that with freedom comes responsibility.  While we have the ability to make a choice and to act on it, we must first consider how such act would affect us and those around us”.

The chief executive has been passionate about freedom and responsibility among media practitioners and a form of media-- the internet, specifically social networking sites and blogging, may be a very powerful force, he said. Bloggers, he stressed are the modern day advocates of free speech and are helping to further shape the internet as a tool for the free exchange of ideas not only locally but globally.

He likewise emphasized that a blog must encourage interactivity and not self censor by removing posts or comments that do not support one’s ideas. “A blog more or less focuses on a central subject.  And as with the other things that we regularly do, there is a purpose and a reason for starting a blog.  It may be to educate, to promote, to entertain, to inspire, to inform, but certainly not to force one’s thoughts down everybody else’s throats”.

He urged bloggers to welcome comments, regardless of whether or not they support the ideas the blog advocates saying “just as you have the right to freely express your thoughts on just about anything, your subscribers and occasional lurkers also have the right to their own opinions”.

“When they do not agree with yours, you should still allow for a healthy discussion with each side defending their stance, making sure the discussion remains wholesome and the readers do not leave discriminatory or hostile comments against anyone.  Never censor people who make sound and sensible arguments just because they disagree with you.  Do not threaten to block them from your site, because doing so would be curtailing the same rights that allow you to continue writing”, the mayor further said.

On the other hand, the mayor also enjoined bloggers to make sure that the blogs contain factual data and not post or publish inaccurate information “or if you must, at least make it clear that it is in doubt”.

Most importantly, he said, just like the conventional media, bloggers should exercise sensitivity. He cited the posting in the social networking site clippings of the gory ending of the ex-convict who went berserk at the Talisayan Elementary School last week.  “This leads me to question the person’s reasons for uploading that video online.  What did he intend to gain from that video?  Did he find deeper meaning in his action?  Did he ever think of what anguish that video would bring to the families of the victims and the assailant?  I think not!”

He may not be a computer savvy but Mayor Celso Lobregat is well informed about internet access specifically on blogging which has gained popularity among Filipinos and is redefining the whole cyberspace experience and is proving to be an effective way of getting ideas across.

He said blogging has proven to be helpful in many ways, as aside from being a productive way to spend time, blogging improves one’s writing and thinking skills.  “You spend hours forming your thoughts, researching, writing, posting articles online and interacting with your readers”.

It is a good social tool as it allows bloggers to connect with fellow bloggers which used to be difficult and very expensive given the geographical distance.   It is also therapeutic for others who simply need an avenue to express frustrations and sentiments, he averred.

Meanwhile, the chief executive commended the Mindanao bloggers for their efforts to showcase the true beauty of Mindanao and to promote deeper understanding of the different cultures in the island as illustrated in the Summit’s theme  “The Mindanao Project: Weaving Voices Online”.

“I am elated and proud that your interest in blogging has spurred you into using it as a tool to advocate for a better and brighter Mindanao. I would not be the only one, or the first, to thank you for contributing, for doing what you can to correct the misperceptions most have of Mindanao and our people”, he said.

Promoting Mindanao and Zamboanga is not an easy task, he said. “Just when we think we have gained significant ground, something terrible happens and all our work comes crashing.  It is like taking two steps forward, then one step backward”.

He expressed belief that for as long as all Mindanaoans and all sectors work together,   the common goal of developing Zamboanga and Mindanao will be achieved.

He likewise called on bloggers to help in bringing about the good, the positive, the beautiful and the best of Zamboanga and Mindanao.

The 4th Mindanao Bloggers Summit started Oct. 29 with the blogging seminar at the Ateneo de Zamboanga and ends today with a city tour of the participants. It is organized by the Zamboanga bloggers group headed by Mr. Ryan Zandueta Elumba.

By Sheila Covarrubias