In celebration of World Press Freedom Day on Monday, the United Nations expressed concern over the current state of the media.
“In too many countries, they run great personal risks, including new restrictions, censorship, abuse harassment, detention, and even death, simply for doing their jobs,” said UN secretary-general António Guterres.
In the Reporters Without Borders ’2021 World Press Freedom Index, it appears that a large portion or 73 percent of 180 countries are prevented from freely accessing and sharing information with the public.
In this list, the Philippines is 138th, slightly down by 2 places, as red-tagging and government attacks on the media continue.
The Palace first opposed it. President Rodrigo Duterte stressed that the government promotes press freedom.
“Let me assure everyone that this administration will remain committed in promoting press freedom as a vital component and indicator of progress anywhere in the world,” the President said.
World Press Freedom Day commemorated; media attacks condemned
But according to the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, the past few years have been bloody for journalists.
“Nineteen journalists were killed in the line of work from June 30, 2016 to April 30, 2021. All of them were males. Thirteen worked in radio, five in print and one online,” said CMFR executive director Melinda Quintos de Jesus.
The pandemic is also a threat to the free press, from closing news organizations, layoffs, and enforcing laws that limit the means of obtaining information.
Many also feel the chilling effect or horrifying effect of harassment on press freedom due to red-tagging and the killing of the ABS-CBN franchise.
Various groups of journalists in the Philippines strongly oppose the enactment of the Anti-Terrorism Act, which will restrict freedom of information.
“We call on the government to uphold the freedom of the press. We demand that the rights and safety of journalists and media houses be respected and protected at all times. Many of us have seen how efforts to go after ‘enemies of the people’ have led to zealous securitization of the government’s response to the problems of the country,” it said in a statement.
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