Palace refutes Ressa’s ‘exaggeration’ in 60 Minutes interview, describes media environment as vibrant

Published November 11, 2019, 9:24 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Genalyn Kabiling

Journalists are safe and free to practice their profession in the country, Malacañang insisted on Monday in a bid to dispute the remarks of Rappler chief Maria Ressa about the supposed dangerous media environment.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Ressa was “exaggerating” when she claimed the media landscape in the country was worse than being in a war zone.

“As Maria my friend is, one, she’s always exaggerating,” Panelo said during a Palace press briefing.

“It’s only a war zone to those who were involved in drugs and who resist violently any warrant of arrest being served them or when they are subject of a buy bust operation and they violently resist as well as imperil the lives of law enforcement officers,” he added.

He defended that media environment remains vibrant in the country, assuring that journalists can still do their work.

“The fact is every journalist, whether here or abroad, is free to cover any event in this country and they come out alive and well and very good at reporting, even if sometimes exaggerating,” he said.

Ressa, in an interview with 60 Minutes on CBS Television, talked about the charges and other threats hurled against her for supposedly reporting the truth about President Duterte.

Apart from facing libel and tax evasion complaints, she claimed she has been called “every animal you can think of.”

“This is far worse than any war zone that I’ve been in,” Ressa said during an interview by Bill Whitaker on 60 Minutes. “In a war zone you know exactly where the threats are coming from. We’ve been living through three years of this kind of hell,” she added.

President Duterte previously lashed out at Rappler for being “a fake news outlet,” saying its articles were “rife with innuendos and pregnant with falsity.”

The Securities and Exchange Commission has revoked the incorporation papers of Rappler after allegedly violating the constitutional ban on foreign ownership in mass media. Rappler has denied the allegation and branded the SEC decision as pure harassment.