MANILA - The Philippines slipped 6 places in a global press freedom index this year, with a media watchdog citing a "growing animosity" towards journalists in the country.
Out of 180 countries, the Philippines ranked 133rd, lower than last year's 127th ranking, the 2018 World Press Freedom Index of media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) showed.
RSF said the latest index reflected a "growing animosity" towards journalists, which is "openly encouraged" by political leaders.
It also noted that the "line separating verbal violence from physical violence is dissolving."
"In the Philippines (down six at 133rd), President Rodrigo Duterte not only constantly insults reporters but has also warned them that they 'are not exempt from assassination'," RSF said.
Manila earned a global score of 42.53, considered a "bad" rating in the index.
Last year, the France-based media watchdog described Duterte as a "new strongman."
Several news organizations and media personalities have earned the ire of Duterte, most recently news website Rappler's Pia Ranada, who in February was barred from covering Malacañang events.
Norway, meanwhile, still tops the index while North Korea is still ranked last.
The global 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 pluralism, media independence, media environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information.
The top 10 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index are the following:
8. New Zealand
10. Costa Rica
At the bottom of the list meanwhile are the following:
171. Equatorial Guinea
180. North Korea
The full 2018 World Press Freedom Index can be viewed here.