The State of Media Freedom in PH, a report to mark #HumanRightsDay

The State of Media Freedom in PH: 

Red-tagging, intimidation vs. press: 

Du30, state agents behind 69 cases

A report released by the Freedom for Media, Freedom for All Network marks the global observance today of International Human Rights Day:  

The Network is composed of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), MindaNews, Philippine Press Institute (PPI), and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ).

The sorry state of media freedom in the country highlights the unyielding reign of impunity, and the shrinking democratic space in the country, even as the nation awaits next week, on Dec. 19, 2019, the promulgation of judgment on the Ampatuan Massacre case of Nov. 23, 2009 that claimed the lives of 58 persons, including 32 journalists and media workers.

After over nine years of trial, Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes, presiding judge of Branch 221 of the regional trial court of Quezon City, will decide on the case that has been described as the “deadliest strike against the press in history.”

Highlights of the State of Media Freedom Report follow:

* From June 30, 2016 to Dec. 5, 2019, or in the last 41 months, 154 incidents of attacks and threats against the news media had been documented jointly by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).

The 154 cases include 15 journalists who had been killed under the Duterte Administration even as cases of intimidation and online harassment registered the highest numbers, by category of incidents.

* The most worrisome numbers are 28 incidents of intimidation, 20 online harassment, 12 threats via text messages, 12 libel cases, 10 website attacks, eight slay attempts, and eight cases of journalists barred from coverage.

* Sixty cases of attacks were made against online media — the highest by media platform — apart from 41 cases against radio networks, 33 against print media agencies, and 15 cases against television networks.

* Of the 154 cases, at least 69 had linked state agents — public officials from the Executive and Legislative branches, uniformed personnel, and Cabinet appointees of President Duterte – as known or alleged perpetrators. Of these 69 state agents, about half or 27 are from national government agencies.

* Luzon  island logged the biggest number of cases at 99, including 69 in Metro Manila alone. Mindanao logged 37 cases, and the Visayas, 18.

In the last six months, however, the most disconcerting and fastest rising numbers of attacks and threats include:

  • Multiple instances of public broadsides and attacks by President Duterte and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. against certain journalists and media agencies, and threats by the President to personally see after the denial of franchise renewal for a television network. “Ayan.Nationwide man ‘yan. Ikaw, ABS-CBN, you’re a mouthpiece of… Ang inyong franchise, mag-end next year. If you are expecting na ma-renew ‘yan,I’m sorry. You’re out. I will see to it that you’re out,” the President warned ABS-CBN network;
  •  Red-tagging of journalists and media organizations as alleged fronts of leftist and communist groups by officers of the Armed Forces, Philippine National Police, Philippine Communications Operations Office, and other state agents;

  • Workshops conducted by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) in the regions compelling journalists to sign off to a “Manifesto of Commitment” to “wholeheartedly support” the Administration’s “Whole-Of-Nation Approach In Attaining Inclusive And Sustainable Peace, Creating A National Task Force To End Local Communist Armed Conflict, And Directing The Adoption Of A National Peace Framework,” as mandated by Executive Order No. 70 that Duterte issued in December 2018, and
  • A case of mistaken arrest of a journalist had also happened. In June 2019,  Fidelina Margarita Avellanosa-Valle, Davao Today columnist, was arrested at the Laguindingan airport allegedly based on a warrant of arrest for murder and other alleged cases. She was brought to Pagadian, held incommunicado for hours, and later released in the evening with just an apology from the Philippine National Police or PNP.

You can read the full report here.

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