History does not teach fatalism. It
teaches that there are moments when the will and work of a handful of free
men and women can break through and shape a new society. Between 1983 and
1986 those in charge of RADIO VERITAS played a key role in mobilizing the
people's power for a remarkably peaceful transition in authority. This
performance encourages the Foundation to recognize a collective effort in a
category normally restricted to individuals.
The Philippines is heir to the great tradition of freedom of the press and
airwaves. Although frequently abused, this freedom remains the ultimate
guardian of human liberty. During both Japan's military occupation in World
War II and the harsh era of President Ferdinand Marcos' authoritarianism,
expectations of free expression shaped the actions of writers and their
audiences. Many suffered for this, either through incarceration or
self-chosen banishment. Some merely endured with frustration or anger.
The beginnings of RADIO VERITAS were not auspicious. Other religious groups
were active in broadcasting when in 1962 the University of Santo Tomas—with
the approval of the Philippine Congress—transferred its license and
equipment to the Philippine Radio Educational and Information Center, under
the chairmanship of Rufino Cardinal Santos, to establish a Catholic Asian
broadcasting system. The Federal Republic of Germany provided for
three-fourths of the initial cost (shortwave equipment and installation) and
later gave additional assistance, as did Australian bishops and others.
Customs delays, loss of equipment and materials enroute, and bad weather
slowed construction, but RADIO VERITAS was finally inaugurated in 1969. It
pledged to broadcast "everything true, noble, good and pure or worthy of
In 1973 its overseas shortwave transmitters broke down and were offlcially
closed. The previous year martial law had been declared in the Philippines,
which inhibited free expression by the media.
There was a new beginning for RADIO VERITAS in 1974-75 under the leadership
of then archbishop and now cardinal, Jaime Sin. He was financed by the
German Catholic Social Aid Fund and the Pontifical Society for Propagation
of the Faith and by a large number of Asian and Philippine bishops. By 1979
the overseas sector was broadcasting in six languages and receiving 45,000
letters annually from listeners. Today it broadcasts in 14 languages. RADIO
VER11AS in the Philippines, however, continued to struggle with programming
and budgetary constraints.
It was the coverage of the assassination of former Senator Benigno Aquino—when
he was landing at the Manila International Airport on August 21, 1983-that
made the reputation of RADIO VERITAS. Listeners to the station, which was
broadcasting live from the airport, heard the immediate news of the shooting
of Aquino on the ramp, and listened to an on-the-scene interview with his
brother-in-law, an experienced broadcaster, who had been accompanying him.
VER1TAS continued to report on the public revulsion that grew over the
ensuing days and years. Other radio and television stations, for the most
part controlled by the administration or presidential "cronies," failed or
feared to match this bold candor.
Coverage by RADIO VERITAS during and after the presidential election on
February 7,1986, provided much of the public exposure which enabled the
National Citizens Movement for Free Elections to challenge the tabulations
of the government's Commission on Elections. It also aroused the anger of
Filipinos who learned how they were being cheated of their franchise. Most
of the other media outlets remained captive of the administration.
As the drama of the people's revolt unfolded over the next 18 days, it was
RADIO VERlTAS, with its dedicated editorial staff, broadcasters and
technicians, which kept the public informed. It motivated the hundreds of
thousands of citizens who marched the streets and blocked the movement of
army tanks. After its powerful transmitters were wrecked, it used a backup
facility to relay the message "that the people would triumph." And so they
In electing RADIO VER1TAS to receive the 1986 Ramon Magsaysay Award for
Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts, the Board of
Trustees recognizes its crucial role in using truth to depose an oppressive
and corrupt regime and restore Filipino faith in the electoral process.