Robredo says accurate reportage also key to solving pandemic
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo has stressed the importance of a free press in fighting problems brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that these can be solved through an accurate reporting of issues and solutions.
In her statement on Monday, World Press Freedom Day, Robredo said that the country — from communities to leaders in the government — must support a free press that allows the public to fairly assess the problems exacerbated by the health crisis and the measures that may solve them.
“Our capacity to successfully overcome the urgent challenges of our time – including the current pandemic – depends on an accurate, and truthful, appreciation of both the issues that confront us and the solutions that are available,” Robredo said in a statement.
“Today, let us renew our determination to support a free press that makes such an appreciation possible,” she added.
The Vice President also stressed that it is the responsibility of governments to ensure that the freedom of the press is upheld and respected.
“It remains the task of leaders and governments everywhere to respect and uphold freedom of the press, and to extend every protection to the women and men who must risk their lives, freedom, and reputations to bring to public awareness the truth behind events,” Robredo noted.
“Democracy cannot survive, much less flourish, without a free press that works to keep citizens informed by equipping them with a common, verifiable baseline of fact on issues pertinent to society and governance,” she explained.
Thirty years ago, the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (Unesco) declared, during the so-called Windhoek Declaration, a statement of support for an independent and pluralistic press in Africa.
The declaration was made on May 3, 1991 — which eventually become World Press Freedom Day.
“3 May acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics,” Unesco said in its website.
“Just as importantly, World Press Freedom Day is a day of support for media which are targets for the restraint, or abolition, of press freedom. It is also a day of remembrance for those journalists who lost their lives in the pursuit of a story,” it added.
According to Robredo, the job of the press is important nowadays especially with misleading information being propagated by a lot of unverified channels.
“And in this age of fake news and digital disinformation, where gaslighting has become a frequent tactic to evade accountability, and blatant falsehood has become the common currency in political discourse, this role has become even more imperative,” she said.
“Today as we observe World Press Freedom Day, let us take the time to honor the courage and commitment of journalists in the Philippines and abroad, who endure harassment, persecution, and violence as they remain steadfast in their roles of pursuing the truth and holding power accountable,” she added.
In the Philippines, press freedom has always been lively, but that does not mean that media workers are free from threats and attacks — whether physically or to the identity of a reporter.
According to the annual press freedom list from Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres or RSF), the country dropped two spots — again — in the world rankings, from 2020’s 136th place to 2021’s 138th.
This was out of 180 countries assessed by the group.
The rankings in 2020 also dropped by two notches, from the previous 134th place.
However, Malacañang said that the going down two notches does not mean that much.
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