Journalists warned vs self-censorship

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 05 2019 09:34 AM | Updated as of Aug 05 2019 09:56 AM

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MANILA - A journalist on Monday cautioned media workers against self-censorship and the effects of climate of fear in press under the Duterte administration.

"We should be very careful about this phenomenon which we experienced under martial law under Marcos, the phenomenon of self-censorship," former Inquirer.net editor-in-chief John Nery told ANC's Early Edition.

"There are some stories that do not get published, do not see the light of day because they fear some pushback."

Nery, convenor of the Consortium on Democracy and Disinformation, made the remark after a recent survey showed that 51 percent of Pinoys say printing or broadcasting anything critical of the administration is "dangerous . . . even if it is the truth."

The same survey found that 59 percent of Filipinos believe that they can speak "openly and without fear" " even if it is against government.

Communications Undersecretary Joel Egco, meantime, said the existence of more than 2,000 media outfits proves there is press freedom in the country.

He also cited President Rodrigo Duterte's executive order on the Freedom of Information and the creation of the presidential task force on media security, which Egco leads.

"His first 2 orders pertained to the State’s obligation to safeguard press freedom in the country," Egco said.

Nery, however, pointed out that Duterte himself has launched attacks on the media, even banning a Palace reporter.

"The President once said press freedom is not a right but a privilege which is a complete reversal of our own history which goes back to the fight for press freedom led by Rizal," he said.

"Some of his own statements actually undermine the position, the credibility of media itself."

Egco, meanwhile, cited the Philippines' improved status in the 2018 Global Impunity Index of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

The country, however, remained 5th highest state with the worst records of prosecuting the killers of journalists.

"The CPJ gave us a progress report, an improved ranking in the global impunity index. We’re hoping we’re going to have a better ranking this year," he said.