Using only state-run media ‘subtle’ way to limit free press—NPC
The president of the National Press Club (NPC) said that the choice of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to course his statements through the government television network PTV-4 following his decision to suspend his nightly press conferences would have negative repercussions on the country’s free press.
NPC President Paul Gutierrez described Duterte’s decision to use only state-run media for his statements as a “subtle way” of undermining a free press.
“I believe that this is a follow-up doon sa sinabi niya na kung ayaw siyang i-boycott ng media, eh siya na lang ang magbo-boycott sa media. In a sense, this is a subtle way o simpleng pamamaraan ng bagong administrasyon na limitahan ang ating kalayaan sa malayang pamamahayag,” Gutierrez said in an interview over Radyo Inquirer on Monday.
(I believe that this is a follow-up to what he said that if the media won’t boycott him, he would boycott the media. In a sense, this is a subtle way of the new administration to limit the free press.)
Duterte, 71, drew flak for justifying the murders of journalists, saying that those who had been killed were corrupt. He also catcalled a female television reporter in one of his press conferences.
When international press group Reporters Without Borders urged Philippine media to boycott Duterte, the incoming President was unapologetic, even challenging the media to boycott him.
Gutierrez said that one of the dangers of relying solely on state-run television network for government information was that journalists outside PTV-4 would have difficulty in verifying whether the details they received were accurate.
The NPC president hoped that incoming Communications Secretary Martin Andanar would talk sense into Duterte.
“I cannot help but to think of it that way kasi kung dati, may free market of ideas—na kanya-kanyang pagalingan ang mga mamamahayag sa pagkuha ng balita biglang nagkaroon ng filter, particular na sa Palasyo ng Malacañan (because before, there was a free market of ideas—the journalists are showing their skills in getting news then suddenly, there is now a filter, particularly in Malacañang). Naniniwala naman tayo na (I believe that) they would somehow prevail on the President. It cannot go on this way,” he said.
Last Saturday, the media setup in Duterte’s thanksgiving party in Davao City was tweaked hours before the event started. The last-minute change barred media groups from setting up in a prepared area near the stage. Media organizations were then directed to use the live footage by PTV-4 and Radio Television Malacañang.
The last-minute change in the media setup in the said event came a day after Duterte’s camp announced that he would no longer be holding press conferences.
The Palace has said that it sees nothing wrong with Duterte’s decision to use PTV-4 for his statements as it is part of the “transition process.”
“We don’t see any problem with that and it is within the bounds of the law,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said. RAM/rga
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