Attorney Harry Roque, the Philippine press has been under siege under your principal for the last five years, and if you refuse to listen to the journalists who you used to represent, just ask your former colleagues in the human rights community.

You are denying censorship of the Philippine press, which the rest of the world has recognized by standing with Filipino journalists to whom the Nobel Peace Prize belongs.

As someone who once stood before the Supreme Court bench and defended the freedom of the press against the Cybercrime Prevention Act, you should know that censorship comes in many forms.

Ask the Nobel laureate Maria Ressa, who still faces eight other charges in court. Ask Lady Ann Salem who will forever have second thoughts of opening her door for fear that it’s another armed team who had come to arrest her. Ask Margarita Valle, who still can’t write the way she used to. Maybe you can visit 22-year-old Frenchie Mae Cumpio in her jail cell in Tacloban, and ask her if she has been censored.

Ask the more than 5,000 workers of ABS-CBN who had lost their jobs because President Rodrigo Duterte said he will destroy the company. We know he said this because even though you censored this part of his speech in Sulu, the working press persevered with the help of sources who remain loyal to the country, not to one man, as you had.

Ask the journalists of Bulatlat, Kodao and Northern Dispatch, these scrappy teams of investigative journalists who persist in the time of layoffs, and online trolls, and cyber attacks launched by the Philippine Army.

Perhaps, Attorney Roque, you should ask yourself too, if any of your heart-thumping defense of the press once upon a time still mean something to you, anything so that you will never forget.

That the media continues to report does not mean that the actions of the government have not created a chilling effect.

Attorney Roque, when 20 of us have been killed, four of us have been jailed, when there have been 37 cases of libel brought against our own, and 230 cases of varied attacks in our ranks, we feel the big chill.

But we will keep doing our job despite it, because our audience deserves a press that persists.

As the Palace gave journalists unsolicited advice, we have some for you as well: A supposed human rights lawyer who blames the media for calling attention to threats and restrictions against them isn’t actually a human rights lawyer.

National Directorate