Palace shrugs off low World Press Freedom Index ranking

MANILA MalacaAang on Thursday shrugged off the Philippines' low ranking in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index of media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans FrontiAres, RSF).

According to the report, the Philippines sunk to 133rd from 127th out of the 180 countries on the list with a score of 42.53.

"There have been countless examples of Philippine government harassment of media that voice any kind of criticism of Duterte's 'war on drugs.' Here, again, verbal violence and physical violence are closely linked, the report said.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that despite ranking 133rd, it was still an improvement from where the Philippines at 138th with the entry of the Duterte administration.

Roque also downplayed the report noting that the World Press Freedom Index also expressed very strong alarm over the developments in the United States, China and Russia.

Hindi lang po Pilipinas ang sinabihan nila. Ganundin ang sinabi nila sa Amerika, kay President Trump. So hindi lang po iyan (It's not just the Philippines they're directing it to. They said the same about America, about President Trump. It's not only) directed to the Philippines, directed also to the US and in any case, it's a private organization," he said.

Despite the report, Roque pointed out that the Duterte administration continues to address the biggest threat to press freedom, which is the killing of journalists.

The government has established the Task Force on Media Security to monitor cases of media violence and to provide legal assistance to the victims and to their family members.

Earlier this month, its special agents went to the provinces to investigate and/or initiate reinvestigation of cases of media workers' killings. The mission resulted in discovery of five more convictions in addition to three that had been previously reported, bringing up to eight the total number of convictions from 2012 to 2016, Roque said.

This shows our very strong resolve to genuinely and concretely address violence against members of the media and/or journalism profession, he added.

When asked if Duterte's tirades against the media contributed to the low ranking, Roque said that the government's record will speak for itself.

We have taken steps po para pangalagaan ang buhay ng mga mamamahayag � wala naman po tayong pinakukulong na mga mamamahayag (ensure the safety of our journalists--we haven't even jailed any journalist), Roque said. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency