MANILA - While it remains among the world's most dangerous countries for journalists, the Philippines rose 11 places in a global press freedom index partly due to a drop in the number of media killings last year.
The Philippines ranked 127th in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index compiled by France-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF), rising from last year's 138.
This even as the organization noted how President Rodrigo Duterte's "insults and open threats" against the press "do not bode well," a reference to his administration's often averse stance towards the media.
The RSF said the media situation in the Philippines is worth watching due to "new strongman" Duterte.
The Philippines' score of 41.08 places it at the second-lowest rating of "Bad", along with Asian neighbors including Indonesia (124), Cambodia (132), India (136), Pakistan (139), Sri Lanka (141), Thailand (142), Malaysia (144), Bangladesh (146), Singapore (151), and Brunei (156).
The RSF's index measures the degree of freedom available to journalists in 180 countries, and is determined by pooling responses of experts to a questionnaire.
It takes into account data on abuses and acts of violence against reporters, as well as pluralism, media independence, media environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the flow of news and information.
Countries with the freest media are rated "Good", followed by "Fairly Good", "Problematic", "Bad", and "Very bad."
The Asia-Pacific region, RSF said, is the "third worst violator" of media freedom, and holds "many of the worst kinds of records."
China, ranked 176th, and Vietnam, at 175, are considered the "world's biggest prisons for journalists and bloggers," RSF said.
It is also home to "press freedom predators," the heads of dictatorships such as China, North Korea, and Laos, countries the RSF described as "news and information black holes."
The top 10 countries in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index are the following:
1. Norway - 7.60
2. Sweden - 8.27
3. Finland - 8.92
4. Denmark - 10.36
5. Netherlands - 11.28
6. Costa Rica - 11.93
7. Switzerland - 12.13
8. Jamaica - 12.73
9. Belgium - 12.75
10. Iceland - 13.03
The following countries were ranked at the bottom of the list:
171. Equatorial Guinea - 66.47
172. Djibouti - 66.47
173. Cuba - 71.75
174. Sudan - 73.56
175. Vietnam - 74.96
176. China - 77.66
177. Syria - 81.49
178. Turkmenistan - 84.19
179. Eritrea - 84.24
180. North Korea - 84.98
The complete list can be found on the RSF website.