PH ‘no worst place’ for journalists
Malacañang has played down a report by an international media group, which claimed that the Philippines is among seven countries in the region deemed as worst places for journalists.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Friday dismissed the Southeast Asia Media Freedom report, which took note of the threat of impunity, safety and censorship in the country.
“The worst? Well for one, the deaths of journalists in this country appear not to be connected with their job,” Panelo said at a press briefing, referring to the report, published by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
Panelo said the reports he received about those who were killed had nothing to do with their work as journalists.
“[They were] related to their personal lives. Nothing to do with journalism, except for one or two,” he said.
The IFJ warned that media freedom in the Philippines was “worsening to seriously declining” and noted that 185 journalists had been killed since the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution.
Under the Duterte administration, 12 journalists have been killed so far, the IFJ said.
In its report, the IFJ scored the Philippines’ impunity scale at 7.5, with 10 being the highest, while the country’s justice system got a score of 7.5.
Vocal vs media critics
President Rodrigo Duterte has been vocal against media outfits critical of his administration.
Journalists in the country also face threats ranging from murder, online harassment and surveillance, among others.
But Malacañang insisted that harassment cases faced by some journalists had nothing to do with freedom of expression.
Panelo cited the case of Rappler chief executive Maria Ressa, who is facing a tax evasion case.
“For instance, they say Ressa was charged [in court], but that has nothing to do with freedom of expression. You violate the law, you cannot be immune from prosecution. And she was even given due process,” he said. —Julie M. Aurelio
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