Egco calls out CPJ depiction of PH media situation as ‘twisted, unjust, unfair’
DAVAO CITY — The head of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) on Tuesday has called out the findings of the Committee to Protect Journalists’ mission to the Philippines, saying it painted a bleak and biased picture of the state of press freedom in the country.
“I am calling them out for this twisted, unjust and unfair depiction of how things are out here, which clearly reflects the bias of some sectors in the media, who do not represent the entire media environment in the country,” Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco, executive director of PTFoMS, wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
Officials from CPJ visited the country this week in a mission to discover what it
described as the “increasing levels of intimidation and a shrinking space for the free press in the country.”
The mission was led by Board Chair Kathleen Carroll, joined in by Peter Greste, director of the Australia-based Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom (AJF), and CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler. They interviewed journalists and conducted a dialogue with government officials including PTFoMS.
In a press statement released on Tuesday, CPJ expressed concern over the various types of pressures exerted by the Duterte administration on journalists in the country, citing the legal cases against Rappler and the threat to withhold the license of the TV network ABS-CBN.
CPJ believed these pressures were “politically motivated and have created a sense of fear throughout the media industry, leading to self-censorship.”
“The oppressive working environment for journalists in the Philippines is alarming,” Carroll said.
“The Duterte government files case after case against Rappler while the president himself lobs sustained, often personal attacks against individual journalists. Online harassment of journalists is highly organized and vicious.”
Among the issues CPJ discussed with Egco’s group were the “red-tagging” of journalists, including members of the journalists’ group National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, since this put journalists at risk of attack or arrest.
“Smaller news websites covering controversial human rights topics have suffered denial of service attacks originating from the Philippines, according to site managers,” it said.
But Egco blasted CPJ’s finding as “unfair.
“Funny how our friends from CPJ managed to come out with such unfair findings on the state of Philippine media in less than 24 hours. Astonishing!” he said. “Clearly, they came here with one thing in mind: To paint a bleak and biased picture of the state of press freedom in the country, representing a few, privileged (read: entitled) group of journos,” he said. /lzb
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