Veteran journalist sees ‘online mosquito press’ emerging under a Marcos Jr. presidency


Screengrab from Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism’s Facebook Livestream

AN ONLINE mosquito press similar to media outlets critical of the government during Martial Law may emerge if a massive censorship is imposed under a Marcos Jr. presidency, a veteran journalist said. 

Mosquito Press, also called the alternative press, emerged in the 1980s when the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. controlled and silenced the media during Martial Law. Marcos likened the small and independent newspapers that resisted his dictatorship to mosquitoes that can be easily swatted. 

His son and namesake Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., has consistently topped surveys on preferred presidential candidates for the 2022 polls. 

“Should massive censorship happen, which I expect under a Marcos regime, there will still be media outlets. Except this will be online mosquito press, like a mosquito press 2.0,” Mindanao Gold Star Daily editor-in-chief Cong Corrales said during the World Press Freedom virtual forum held last May 3. 

 “I guess there will be an online Mosquito Press. Just like what happened in the time of his dad… We [the media] will still be there. But it would be challenging,” he added.

Corrales, a former writing fellow of Vera Files, said the weaponization of social media puts press freedom at risk. 

Well-funded and well-coordinated attacks against the press would also lead to a “chilling effect” that would force media outlets to censor themselves, he added. 

Less freedom, more control

UST journalism professor and former ABS-CBN News Channel anchor Christian Esguerra said there would be more suppression of press freedom should Marcos Jr. be elected president.

“You have to look at how he’s been dealing with the media, how he’s been looking at the free press since their [Marcoses] years in Malacañang,” Esguerra said in the same forum.

“Those things will automatically lead you to a very likely conclusion. There will be more suppression of the press, there will be less freedom, even further, there will be more control of newsrooms,” he added.

Esguerra said the self-censorship of some news organizations would also worsen under a Marcos presidency.

“We can feel it right now in the newsroom. The worst type of censorship is self-censorship. We’re seeing that already. What more if he wins,” he said.

The virtual forum titled “The State of Media Freedom in the Philippines: Journalism Under Siege” was held in celebration of World Press Freedom Day. It was organized by the Freedom for Media Freedom for All, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Center for Medial Freedom and Responsibility, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Mindanews, Philippine Press Institute and Wag Kukurap Coalition. F

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