F. Sionil Jose’s opinion ‘better view’ of state of PH press freedom – Roque
MANILA, Philippines — Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday stressed that national artist F. Sionil Jose’s opinion on the country’s press freedom is the “better view” following journalist Maria Ressa’s win of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Ressa, the first Filipino to receive the honor, was awarded for her efforts to fight for freedom of expression.
According to Jose, the country’s press is “alive and well” and it is not due to Ressa, noting that no writers are behind bars and no censorship exists.
Even though Malacañang congratulated Ressa on Monday, two days after she got the recognition, Roque maintained that the Palace agrees with Jose.
“The Philippines is a democratic society and every view, regardless of affiliation, must be accorded with respect,” Roque said in a statement.
“Having said this, we regard F. Sionil Jose’s opinion as the better view of the state of the press freedom in the country,” he went on.
Roque’s statement was a response to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)’s statement asking him not to deny media censorship in the country.
“Attorney Harry Roque, the Philippine press has been under siege under your principal for the last five years, and if you refuse to listen to the journalists who you used to represent, just ask your former colleagues in the human rights community,” NUJP said in a statement.
“As the Palace gave journalists unsolicited advice, we have some for you as well: A supposed human rights lawyer who blames the media for calling attention to threats and restrictions against them isn’t actually a human rights lawyer,” the organization said.
Roque likewise shared the same opinion as Jose on the closure of media giant ABS-CBN, downplaying the threats to press freedom.
Roque and Jose noted that ABS-CBN’s non-renewal of the franchise was due to the decision made by the House of Representatives that’s stacked with administration allies.
Ressa claimed that she herself is a victim of censorship through the arrest warrants for cyberlibel charges filed against her.
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