On World Press Freedom Day, Monday, May 3, Pres. Duterte vowed that the Administration will protect the media, despite verbally attacking news outlets on several occasions.
“Let me assure everyone that this administration should remain committed to promoting press freedom as a vital component and indicator of progress anywhere in the world,” Duterte said in a taped message.
Also included in the message was his urge to the media “to uphold fairness and transparency while also making a positive impact on the people’s lives.”
However, some journalists do not believe what Duterte said during his speech for World Press Freedom Day.
Raissa Robles, a correspondent for the South China Morning Post felt that the message that the President delivered is “insincere”.
— Raissa Robles (@raissawriter) May 3, 2021
Journalist Inday Espina Varona pointed that the speech delivered by Duterte is “just for show”. Varona emphasized that the President himself actually led the attacks on the Philippine press such as Rappler, ABS-CBN, and Daily Inquirer.
#ForkedTongue display from Rodrigo Duterte on #WorldPressFreedomDay Pretends to extol press freedom when he has led attacks on the Ph press for more than four years. See his public threats against Rappler, against ABS-CBN, his rationalisation for the killing of journalists.
— inday espina varona (@indayevarona) May 3, 2021
In another tweet, Varona highlighted the need for the media—be free and continue to do so.
— inday espina varona (@indayevarona) May 3, 2021
It can be recalled that Duterte previously launched an assault against ABS-CBN, the largest TV network in the Philippines.
Even before ABS-CBN’s closure last year, Duterte foreshadowed the inevitable. In an interview last December 2019, the President hinted that the renewal of the Network’s franchise will not be possible. He even suggested that the company should sell it.
“Itong ABS, mag-expire ang contract ninyo. Magrenew kayo, ewan ko lang kung may mangyari diyan. Kung ako sa inyo, ipagbili ‘nyo na ‘yan,” Duterte said.
Moreover, journalists have been red-tagged and killed relentlessly during this current regime. According to the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, at least 19 were killed since Duterte assumed the position.
To commemorate World Press Freedom Day, Kapamilya broadcaster Karen Davila wore a facemask that shows a hand covering a mouth, symbolizing the attempts to silence journalists from revealing the truth.
— Karen Davila (@iamkarendavila) May 3, 2021
Tarra Quismundo, the Deputy Editor of ABS-CBN News, expressed her concern regarding how journalists are being treated. Those with power can easily stomp journos if they do not follow their bidding. Quismundo even said that this is “such a hard time” for journalists.
ABS-CBN correspondent Anjo Bagaoisan voiced out the need for the press to be defended as many journalists are being killed during Duterte’s reign.
— Anjo Bagaoisan (@anjo_bagaoisan) May 3, 2021
With World Press Freedom Day, several Kapamilya journos reminisced the “good ol’ days”.
Kapamilya reporter Chiara Zambrano shared a photo of the Network’s remaining journalists after the Administration shut down the TV station.
“Tara, picture tayo sa labas.”
Walang sumagot sa tanong na iyan.
Walang kayang magsabi…
“Hindi kasi natin alam kung buo pa tayo bukas.”
— Chiara Zambrano (@chiarazambrano) May 3, 2021
Kapamilya journalist Mike Navallo showed his support to his fellow reporters who keep on fighting despite the oppression that they receive.
— Mike Navallo (@mikenavallo) May 3, 2021
Rappler journalist Jodesz Gavilan voiced her support to a colleague, Frenchie Mae Cumpio, who is still being imprisoned since February of 2020. As part of this memorable event for the press, Gavilan stressed that journalists such as Cumpio are not terrorist
Frenchie Mae Cumpio has been in jail since February 2020. More than a year away from her loved ones, and the profession amid rising threats in the country. She is a journalist, not a terrorist.#WorldPressFreedomDay ￼ #FreeFrenchieMaeCumpio #DefendPressFreedom
— Jodesz Gavilan (@jodeszgavilan) May 3, 2021
A member of the news publication Manila Today, Lady Ann Salem urged the government to free Cumpio for she is a reporter, a journalist, not a terrorist.
— Lady Ann Salem (@LadyAnnSalem1) May 3, 2021
Kapamilya correspondent, RG Cruz, shared a speech of ABS-CBN News Chief Ging Reyes regarding how politicians tend to manipulate the press. Reyes in her message stressed that journalists should not back down and abandon the right to free speech.
During the controversial war on drugs of Duterte, news outlets exposed the result of such a campaign—numerous killings.
In his speech last January 2018, Duterte vowed to close down news website Rappler for its relentless effort to cover the killings of the drug war.
Last 2017, Duterte scolded Daily Inquirer for reporting a “spinned” article about him focusing his drug war on the poor.