On World Press Freedom Day, Palace cites crucial role of ‘fair and democratic media’
UPDATED @ 11:51 p.m., May 3, 2020
MANILA, Philippines — As the country marked World Press Freedom Day on Wednesday, Malacañang underscored the crucial role of “a fair and democratic media,” adding that the Philippines “enjoys a free and vibrant press.”
“Today, May 3, we join media workers around the world in observing World Press Freedom Day,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.
“The Philippines enjoys a free and vibrant press, and this Administration places great importance to the vital role of a fair and democratic media in having a well-informed and empowered citizenry,” he added.
Roque said the role of the press has become “more relevant” as the country confronts the crisis brought about by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, which has so far infected over 9,000 and killed more than 600 people in the country.
“Filipino households need to get timely, accurate, and transparent reporting of this global health emergency and the action or intervention the government has made to address this situation thereby promoting public awareness and engagement and accountability in public service,” Roque said.
“As media workers continue reporting in the frontlines, we pray for everyone’s safety as we laud all those in front of and behind the scenes in bringing truthful information to the homes of every Filipino family,” the Palace official added.
In a separate statement, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar vowed to continue promoting the rights and liberty of the media.
In 2020, the Philippines dropped two places in the World Press Freedom Index, sliding to the 136th place out of 180 countries and regions.
The annual press freedom list by the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders noted how state troll armies in some countries, including the Philippines, used the weapon of disinformation on social media.
The information brief on the Philippines also cited the Duterte administration’s response to critical journalism such as the harassment of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, ABS-CBN, and Rappler and its CEO Maria Ressa.
“The persecution has been accompanied by online harassment campaigns waged by pro-Duterte troll armies, which also launched cyber-attacks on alternative news websites and the site of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, in order to block them,” it said.