Palace unfazed by 2-point drop in PH world press index ranking

Published April 22, 2021, 4:30 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Malacañang has brushed aside the latest drop in the country’s ranking in the world press freedom index this year, saying the two-point slip was insignificant.

The Philippines fell two places to 138th out of 180 economies in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index in the wake of the alleged red-tagging of and attacks against local media. The report was released by the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

“Well, unang-una, dalawang posisyon lang po iyan, two positions lower, de minimis po iyan, walang masyadong ibig sabihin (First of all, it’s just two positions lower.  It’s de minimis),” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said during a televised press briefing Thursday, April 22.

“We see nothing wrong with it,” Roque insisted.

Roque took comfort in the report that the country ranked fourth among 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations) in the press freedom report. “We are ahead of Myanmar, Cambodia, Brunei, Singapore, Laos and Vietnam,” he added.

He also claimed that the press freedom score might be the lowest ranking during the Duterte administration, but it was still equivalent to the highest ranking during the previous Aquino administration.

Roque, however, admitted that the Palace was disputing the reason behind the drop in the country’s ranking in the press freedom index.  

He argued that the issues related to Rappler and ABS-CBN network should have “not (have) led to the decline in our ranking.”

“We dispute also the ranking because iyong Reporters Without Borders considered as (an) affront to press freedom itong Rappler issue na alam naman natin na dinesisyunan ng SEC na hindi naman appointed ni President Duterte at mga appointees ni Presidente Aquino pa  (We dispute also the ranking because Reporters Without Borders considered as affront to press freedom the issue about Rappler. We know that it was decided upon by (the) SEC whose officials are not appointed by President Duterte and are in fact appointees of President Aquino),” he said.

“Itong ABS-CBN na alam naman natin na kinakailangan talaga ng prangkisa (On ABS-CBN, we know that operational franchise was needed),” he added.

In the world press freedom report, the Philippines obtained a global score of 45.64 in 2020.

The media watchdog mentioned the government’s alleged harassment campaign against Rappler, the Congress’ rejection of ABS-CBN’s franchise, red-tagging, and online harassment campaigns by pro-Duterte troll armies.