On October 13, President Rodrigo Duterte said press freedom is vital in a nation’s vibrant democracy despite his administration’s history of media crackdowns.
During the fifth anniversary of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, President Duterte emphasized the value of the task force.
“The task force plays a crucial role in safeguarding press freedom that is vital in a nation’s vibrant democracy.
“It also helps ensure that the rights and welfare of the press are well protected and upheld.”
In 2016, President Duterte created the Presidential Task Force on Media Security in response to the violence against journalists. However, during his administration, there have been multiple instances of crackdowns on media institutions and journalists.
One of the journalists who faced Duterte’s treatment of media personnel was the veteran journalist Maria Ressa. According to some activists, Ressa faced two libel cases and had the license of her news site Rappler suspended because of her scrutiny of Duterte’s presidency.
Ressa recently received the coveted Nobel Peace Prize alongside Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”. Muratov also faced attacks on press freedom in his home country.
Earlier, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque denied claims of media crackdowns by insisting that Duterte’s administration did not shut down ABS-CBN. He also used Ressa’s Nobel Peace Prize as an excuse.
“Excuse me, wala po tayong pinasara. Kinakailangan po ng prangkisa ng ABS-CBN na hindi nila nakuha.
“Name a media outlet that the President has ordered closed. As of now po, press freedom is alive. And the proof is the Nobel Peace Prize award given to Maria Ressa.”
In 2020, Congress denied ABS-CBN franchise renewal resulting in the media giant’s shut down. The denial of the ABS-CBN’s renewal resulted from a series of allegations against the network. It included tax evasion, unfair labor practices, and franchise violations. However, none of these charges were proven true.