By Genalyn Kabiling
The government has lauded journalists for keeping the public informed as well as promoting accountability in public service in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has recognized the essential role of the media during the latest public health emergency on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day.
“Today, May 3, we join media workers around the world in observing World Press Freedom Day,” he said in a statement Sunday.
“As media workers continue reporting [from] the frontlines, we pray for everyone’s safety as we laud all those in front of and behind the scenes in bringing truthful information to the homes of every Filipino family,” he added.
Roque maintained that freedom of the press remains vibrant in the country. He said the government recognizes that the role of media workers has become “more relevant” in the face of the coronavirus threat.
“The Philippines enjoys a free and vibrant press, and this Administration places great importance [on] the vital role of a fair and democratic media in having a well-informed and empowered citizenry,” he said.
“In this time of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, this role has become more relevant. Filipino households need to get timely, accurate, and transparent reporting of this global health emergency and the action or intervention the government has made to address this situation, thereby promoting public awareness and engagement and accountability in public service,” he said.
Roque issued the remarks after the country dropped two notches to 136th place out of the 180 countries in the 2020 World Press Freedom index.
In the report, Reporters Without Borders claimed that the Philippine government has moved to “pressure” journalists critical of President Duterte and his war on drugs. The group mentioned the government’s alleged harassment campaign against the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Rappler, and ABS-CBN television network.
“The persecution has been accompanied by online harassment campaigns waged by pro-Duterte troll armies, which also launched cyber-attacks on alternative news websites and the site of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, in order to block them,” the group wrote on its website.
“In response to all these attacks, the Philippine independent media have rallied around the call to ‘Hold the line.'”