Filipino journalists deserve to exercise their profession without any fear of violence, intimidation, and harassment, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) declared on Monday, May 3, in the observance of the World Press Freedom Day.
“Journalists give voice to the voiceless, poor, and marginalized. No time is better than now to support them in their fight for truth and justice,” the CHR stressed.
Through Spokesperson Jacqueline Ann De Guia, the CHR paid tribute to the important role of journalists particularly amidst the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
De Guia said that because of the untiring efforts of the members of the Philippine press, the public is kept abreast with the most factual and relevant information, on top of holding those in power to account.
But De Guia, a lawyer, lamented that because of the current political climate, journalists face a lot of risks in the performance of their profession.
“Thus, it is concerning that for four consecutive years the Philippines has consistently dropped in the World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF),” she said.
“This drop in ranking coincides with the recent results released by the Social Weather Stations survey which finds six in ten Filipinos agree that it is ‘dangerous to print or broadcast anything critical’ of the current administration ‘even if it is the truth,'” she bewailed.
She pointed out that the support against barriers to press freedom goes beyond mere rhetoric, and the government must come up with concrete actions to ensure that members of the media are protected in the line of duty.
She cited Senate Bill No. 1820, a legislative measure filed by Senate President Vicente Sotto III, that would uphold media workers’ welfare by creating a basic compensation scheme to include the adequate compensation for hazardous media coverages and guarantee the security of tenure, or regularization, for all media workers.