Duterte gov't respects press freedom; to fight fake news - Andanar
The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte respects press freedom contrary to the allegations of some quarters, the government's top communicationS official said on Friday.
Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Martin Andanar issued the statement on the World Press Freedom Day as he vowed to fight fake news and disinformation.
"We are one with all the mediamen in the country and around the world in pushing for and protecting the press freedom," he said in a statement.
But in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index by the Reporters Without Borders released in April, the Philippines ranked 134th, one notch lower from its 133rd ranking last year.
The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders noted that three Philippine journalists were killed this year, "most likely by agents working for local politicians, who can have reporters silenced with complete impunity."
"The government, for its part, has developed several ways to pressure journalists who dare to be overly critical of the summary methods adopted by the 'Punisher' Duterte and his notorious 'war on drugs'," it added.
Describing Duterte as a "temperamental president," the group said that he and his staff waged a "grotesque harassment campaign" against news website Rappler and its editor, Maria Ressa, in 2018 after allegedly targeting the Philippine Daily Inquirer and television network ABS-CBN in 2017. Duterte earlier vowed to oppose the renewal of ABS-CBN's franchise.
"The persecution was accompanied by online harassment campaigns waged by pro-Duterte troll armies, which also launched cyber-attacks on alternative news websites and the site of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines in order to block them," Reporters Without Borders added.
However, to prove that the Duterte administration has been respecting and protecting the members of the press in the country, Andanar said Duterte, during the early part of his government, created the Presidential Task Force on Media Security.
He said his office continues to fight "disinformation and the spread of fake news" as these destroy press freedom. Celerina Monte/DMS