Int'l media group urges Duterte to uphold press freedom, safety of journalists


Posted at Jun 14 2019 11:49 PM

MANILA - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on Friday urged the Duterte administration to uphold press freedom and ensure the safety of journalists in the Philippines.

The Brussels-based organization issued the statement after its annual meeting in Tunis this week.

The IFJ expressed alarm regarding the arrest of Davao City-based journalist Margarita Valle in a case of mistaken identity last Sunday.

It also noted that the 10th anniversary of the Ampatuan massacre, which killed 58 persons including 32 journalists, will be held this year but no suspects have been convicted yet.

"After nearly ten years, not one of the suspects have been convicted for the massacre, considered the world’s worst single attack against media workers," the group said.

The IFJ urged government to fast-track the trial of the case and to take "concrete and credible steps" to resolve the killing of Filipino journalists and prevent further attacks as it noted that 12 media workers have been killed under the current administration.

It also expressed concern that media workers who criticize President Rodrigo Duterte have been arrested and "subjected to harassment and attacks" and called out the red-tagging of its affiliate, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.

Rappler chief Maria Ressa has been arrested several times over cyber libel and tax evasion charges, which she had slammed as irregular.

Various media groups said they have recorded 85 cases of attacks against journalists since 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.