President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his speech during the Thanksgiving gathering he hosted for the Armed Forces of the Philippines Council of the Sergeants Major at the Malacañan Palace on December 10, 2019.
Presidential Photo/Alfred Frias
Duterte, state agents behind 69 cases of attacks vs journalists — press groups
Gaea Katreena Cabico ( - December 11, 2019 - 3:02pm

MANILA, Philippines — Government officials and uniformed personnel were linked to at least 69 attacks and threats against journalists recorded since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office, according to a report of a network of media organizations.

The Freedom for Media, Freedom For All network documented 154 incidents of attacks and threats against news media from June 30, 2016 to December 5, 2019.

The cases include 15 journalists killed during the Duterte administration.

The press groups also recorded 28 incidents of intimidation, 20 online harassment, 12 threats via text messages, 12 libel cases, 10 website attacks, eight slay attempts and eight cases of journalists barred from coverage in the last 41 months.

“The situation highlights the unyielding reign of impunity and the shrinking democratic space in the country,” the Freedom for Media, Freedom for All network said.

The network is composed of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, MindaNews, Philippine Press Institute and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.

Attacks by state agents

The press groups said at least 69 cases had linked public officials from the executive and legislative branches and uniformed personnel as known or alleged perpetrators.

"Of these 69 state agents, about half or 27 are from national government agencies," the report said.

Duterte, who has been targeting the franchise of ABS-CBN since 2017, said he will personally see after the denial of the broadcasting giant’s franchise renewal. ABS-CBN’s legislative franchise expires on March 30, 2020.

Last month, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. hurled an expletive against a Philippine Daily Inquirer reporter for her live tweets on the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit coverage.

In June, Davao Today columnist Margarita Valle was arrested and detained for 112 hours by elements of the Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group. The authorities later apologized and downplayed it as a case of mistaken identity.

The organizations also noted that more cases of red-tagging or red-baiting of journalists by police or military officers or their intelligence assets have been reported.

The Philippines placed 134th out of 180 countries on the 2019 World Press Freedom Index of media watchdog Reporters Without Borders.

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