'Courage can be contagious’ | Inquirer News

‘Courage can be contagious’

/ 07:15 AM May 06, 2018

GAG ME NOT A student activist joins a rally on World Press Freedom Day on May 3 at the University of the Philippines Diliman campus. —RICHARD A. REYES

In the 22 months that President Rodrigo Duterte has been in office, four media watchdogs recorded 85 cases of attacks on press freedom, according to a joint report released on World Press Freedom Day on May 3.

The report of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Philippine Press Institute and Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism covered June 30, 2016, to May 1, 2018.


Over that period, the report listed the following cases:


Nine journalists were killed in the line of duty.

Sixteen libel cases had been filed, mostly by state officials or agencies.

Fourteen cases of online harassment allegedly by Mr. Duterte’s supporters.

Eleven death threats made against journalists over reports critical of public officials, including Mr. Duterte.

Six attempted killings, mostly by gunmen riding motorcycles.

Six cases of harassment, mostly by state officials or agencies.


Five cases of intimidation, mostly by local officials;

Four cases of website attack.

Four cases of physical assault, mostly by local officials.

Three cases of cyberlibel.

Three cases of reporters barred from coverage by the Office of the President.

Two cases of registrations revoked or franchise denied.

One gun attack.

One case of verbal assault in Metro Manila, excluding instances when the President himself cursed and scolded journalists or threatened media outlets with closure.

All platforms affected

The report said all media platforms were affected—30 of the 85 cases involved radio journalists, 22 cases involved independent online journalists, 19 cases in print, 12 cases in television, one case involved a multiplatform online newsman and the last case involved a photojournalist.

By location, 40 of the 85 cases occurred in Metro Manila, but there was one case where Philippine officials denied access to Manila-based foreign correspondents in Singapore.

According to the report, the number of journalists killed during the Duterte administration equaled that during the administration of Benigno S. Aquino III over the same period.

The separate records of Duterte and Aquino, however, both exceeded those of former Presidents Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Ejercito Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In the first 22 months in office of Estrada, at least five journalists were killed and the same number were killed in the first 22 months in office of Arroyo.

Analyzing the data, CMFR said corruption figured in only a small number of cases of journalist killings, contrary to the claim of Aquino.

‘Culture of impunity’

Having only 17 of 156 cases partly solved since 1986 contributed to a “culture of impunity,” the report said.

The groups said the attacks were aggravated by supporters of Mr. Duterte who slander journalists and media organizations and even incite people to commit violence against media workers.

Aside from internet trolls, attacks on media organizations now included surveillance by state security forces.

Journalists and news organizations have reported unwanted police visits and surveillance. Even members of the Philippine National Police Press Corps have reported police visits and questioning.

But while Mr. Duterte showed disdain for media, the groups said they remained committed to the tenets of journalism.

“Like fear, courage can be contagious,” the groups said.

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“To stand firm and to stand united for press freedom and democracy, to speak truth to power and to keep power in check—this much the press owes the people,” they said.

TAGS: CMFR, PCIJ, Rodrigo Duterte

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