MANILA - A group of artists and media practitioners on Thursday, World Press Freedom Day, urged a United Nations special rapporteur to expedite an investigation into the alleged threats to press freedom and freedom of expression under the Duterte administration.
Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI) made the request in a six-page letter to David Kaye, U.N. special rapporteur on the promotion of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
"We appeal for quick action from your end as President Duterte’s government rapidly constricts democratic space, especially that reserved by the constitution for free expression," it said.
LODI said the Philippine press "faces the most serious challenges since the downfall of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos."
Various media groups said they have recorded 85 cases of attacks against journalists since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in 2016.
Malacañang, however, denied the claim and said “media killings have gone down in the Philippines” under the Duterte administration.
It also cited government efforts to protect journalists, including the establishment of a task force on media security.
LODI, meanwhile, called out Duterte's tirades against the media.
"President Duterte holds no monopoly on press freedom violations. But he stands out among Philippine leaders for his vicious displays of hostility towards journalists," it said.
"Irate news subjects have physically attacked media workers. Journalists have received death threats, been tagged as enemies of the state, or faced arrest for criminal libel and trumped-up rebellion charges."
The Philippines slipped 6 places in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index, according to media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Out of 180 countries, the Philippines ranked 133rd, lower than last year's 127th ranking, which RFS attributed to a "growing animosity" towards journalists, which is "openly encouraged" by political leaders.