By Jeffrey Damicog
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has assured that press freedom in the country remains high.
The Secretary gave this assurance in response to the observations made by officials of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) who found as alarming the “oppressive environment” of Philippine journalists.
“Contrary to the opinion of the visiting foreign journalists, I believe that the Philippine press is the freest in the region,” Guevarra stated.
“Anyone can criticize or say anything against the government without fear of retaliation,” he pointed out.
Officials of the CPJ are in the country to meet with a wide range of journalists and government officials due to concerns about the various types of formal and informal pressure journalists face in the country.
They also met with DOJ officials concerning the multiple charges filed against online news outfit Rappler and its executive editor Maria Ressa which they viewed as “highly political.”
“Maria Ressa’s case is not reflective of the overall situation,” Guevarra said.
“Her cases arose from a violation of our Securities Code, which led to other cases such as tax evasion and anti-dummy charges,” he explained.
“Her cyber libel case was initiated by a private individual, not by the government,” he added.