Governments and leaders must “respect and uphold freedom of the press” to fight against the spread of fake news and blatant falsehood and ensure the promises of democracy, Vice President Leni Robredo said in her message for World Press Freedom Day on Monday, May 3.
“It remains the task of leaders and governments everywhere to respect and uphold freedom of the press, and to extend every protection to the women and men who must risk their lives, freedom, and reputations to bring to public awareness the truth behind events,” she stressed in a statement.
Robredo recognized “the honor, the courage and commitment of journalists in the Philippines and abroad, who endure harassment, persecution, and violence as they remain steadfast in their roles of pursuing the truth and holding power accountable.”
The vice president said that democracy cannot survive and flourish without a free press that will keep citizens informed of the truth.
Robredo also noted the challenges of the times—fake news, disinformation, and gaslighting—which she said are being used “to evade accountability.”
Furthermore, the lady official cited that “blatant falsehood has become the common currency in political discourse,” which makes it even more imperative to protect the role of a free press.
“Our capacity to successfully overcome the urgent challenges of our time – including the current pandemic – depends on an accurate, and truthful, appreciation of both the issues that confront us and the solutions that are available,” Robredo said.
“Today, let us renew our determination to support a free press that makes such an appreciation possible,” she continued.
Under the Duterte administration, the country’s largest television network was shut down and a libel case threatened to close down a digital news agency and put to prison its chief executive officer.
It has been highly critical of legitimate news outlets while also purportedly reposting fake news and allegations on the official Facebook pages of government agencies.