Duterte: Freedom of the press is “vital in the dynamic democracy of a country”

Alexis Romero – Philstar.com

October 13, 2021 | 6:52 p.m.

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has called press freedom “vital in a country’s vibrant democracy” as some sectors criticized what they called censorship of journalists under his administration.

In a welcome video for the fifth anniversary of the Presidential Task Force on Media Safety, Duterte cited the body’s role in protecting press freedom and rights.

“The task force plays a crucial role in safeguarding press freedom which is vital in a country’s vibrant democracy,” Duterte said in a video post posted on the spokesperson’s office Facebook page Thursday. presidential.

“It also helps to ensure that the rights and well-being of the press are well protected and respected,” he added.

The President also expressed the hope that the working group would continue to fulfill its mandate “with the utmost excellence and commitment”.

Duterte’s statement came as he spoke out against the challenges Filipino journalists face under his watch, which came to light after Rappler’s chief executive, Maria Ressa, was named one of the award winners. Nobel Peace Prize this year.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee described Ressa as “a fearless defender of free speech” and praised her for speaking out against what he described as “the abuse of power, the use of violence and the Growing Authoritarianism ”in the Philippines.

Duterte spokesman Harry Roque praised Ressa on his award, but maintained press freedom is alive in the country.

The National Union of Philippine Journalists (NUJP) disputed Roque’s claim, saying the press was “under siege” under Duterte. The group cited the charges against Ressa, the arrest of journalist Lady Ann Salem, the shutdown of ABS-CBN and cyber attacks against Bulatlat, Kodao and the Northern Dispatch.

“The fact that the media continues to report does not mean that the government’s actions have not created a chilling effect,” the NUJP said in a statement.

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