The dynamism of the Philippine press has been challenged by President Rodrigo Duterte, who repeatedly hurled threats against journalists, Reporters Without Borders noted.
The STAR/Kriz John Rosales
Philippines down 6 notches on World Press Freedom Index
Gaea Katreena Cabico ( - April 25, 2018 - 5:58pm

MANILA, Philippines — Despite being touted as the country with the freest and liveliest press in Asia, the Philippines sank lower in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index of media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières, RSF).

The country slipped to 133rd from 127th out of the 180 countries on the list. The Philippines has a score of 42.53.

The dynamism of the Philippine press has been challenged by President Rodrigo Duterte, who repeatedly hurled threats against journalists, RSF noted.

"There have been countless examples of Philippine government harassment of media that voice any kind of criticism of Duterte’s 'war on drugs.' Here, again, verbal violence and physical violence are closely linked,” it said.

RSF also noted that the Philippines is the deadliest country for journalists in Asia after four of five media workers targeted by gunmen were killed in 2017.

President Duterte created the Presidential Task Force on Media Security in 2016 to address media killings but has also gone on tirades against journalists and media outlets that have been criticial of his policies.

READPhilippines is Asia's ‘deadliest country’ for journalists — RSF

Last January, the Securities and Exchange Commission revoked the license of news outlet Rappler after it ruled that the news website had violated constitutional prohibition on foreign ownership of media. The SEC probe was prompted by a letter from Solicitor General Jose Calida, who was appointed by Duterte. 

Duterte himself took shots at Rappler during his 2017 State of the Nation Address, accusing the news website of being owned by Americans.

Malacañang has also barred one of its reporters from covering the president’s events.

Rights and media groups slammed the attacks against Rappler, one of the most critical media outfits under Duterte, calling these politically motivated and an attempt to silence criticisms of the government.

Duterte has also called out ABS-CBN and Philippine Daily Inquirer for their supposedly “slanted” reporting. He also threatened that he would block the franchise renewal of the Lopez-owned media company.

Malacañang has repeatedly maintained that the government’s moves are “not an attack on press freedom.”

Norway is still the top country in world for press freedom. North Korea also continues to be ranked last on the index.  

READRights groups on Rappler closure: Don't shoot the messenger

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