MANILA — Journalists are in a dangerous situation, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) chairperson Nonoy Espina said Friday, as he claimed President Duterte is "personally spearheading" the attacks against the media.
"It is very difficult more than any president. Duterte has been personally spearheading attacks versus media and that is a very dangerous situation. Given his popularity, it does create hostility among the people towards media," Espina said in an interview with ANC's Early Edition.
As the world commemorated World Press Freedom Day, Espina lamented the harassment media practitioners face doing their job of delivering news.
"A lots of our colleagues have been under attack... We've seen a spike in harassment, threats," he said.
A report prepared by NUJP, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, Philippine Press Institute, and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism revealed that since Duterte took office, 128 cases of threats and attacks against the press have been reported.
"This is a government that doesn't respect the Constitution," said Espina.
Amid the setbacks, Espina believes journalists in the Philippines remain free because "we insist on being free."
"Objectively speaking we do exercise a lot of that freedom, but not because we're allowed to. We exercise freedom because we insist on being free," he said.
Despite being touted as the country with the freest press in Asia, the Philippines dropped one spot in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index published by Paris-based Reporters sans Frontières (RSF, Reporters Without Borders).
Manila ranked 134th out of 180 countries with RSF citing the killing of 3 Philippine journalists in 2019, “most likely by agents working for local politicians, who can have reporters silenced with complete impunity.”