Duterte says press must be protected from threats, intimidation
MANILA, Philippines — For the World Press Freedom Day, President Rodrigo Duterte, who once said journalists were legitimate targets of assassination, said the press must be protected from “all forms of threat and intimidation.”
In his message, Duterte said a “free and responsible press” is vital in the advancement of society, especially in the digital age where a “stronger commitment” in upholding truth and accuracy.
“This year’s theme affirms the nature of news and information as a public good that must be utilized effectively to achieve their intended benefits,” he said in a message, which was posted on the Facebook page of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security on Sunday night.
“Moreover, the messenger itself, the press, must be protected from all forms of threat and intimidation so that they may fully serve the best interest of our people,” the President added.
He urged the public to “ensure the integrity and safety of the press.”
Read: World Press Freedom Day message of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte
In a separate video message, President Duterte said his administration will remain committed in promoting press freedom, as he called on the mass media to “uphold fairness and transparency while also making a positive impact on the people’s lives.”
“Cognizant of the ever changing communication system these days, may the mass media also uphold fairness and transparency while also making a positive impact on the people’s lives,” he said.
“Let me assure everyone that this administration will remain committed in promoting press freedom as a vital component and indicator of progress anywhere in the world,” Duterte added.
In 2016, Duterte said corrupt journalists were legitimate targets of assassination, adding that journalists who took bribes or engaged in other corrupt activities also deserved to die.
Duterte has also verbally attacked several media outlets, even saying that he would not allow media giant ABS-CBN to operate even if it secures a new franchise from Congress.
Critics have claimed that press freedom in the country “has been under systematic attack,” citing the closure of ABS CBN, cyber libel cases against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, and killings of journalists.
As of 2020, 19 journalists have been killed in the four years of the Duterte administration, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) earlier said.
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