Press freedom vital in nation’s democracy – Duterte

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Press freedom vital in nationâs democracy â Duterte
In a video greeting for the fifth anniversary of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, Duterte cited the role of the body in protecting the freedom and rights of the press.
Presidential Communications Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — Press freedom is key to a nation’s democracy, President Duterte said, as some sectors criticized what they called the censoring of journalists under his administration.

In a video greeting for the fifth anniversary of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, Duterte cited the role of the body in protecting the freedom and rights of the press.

“The task force plays a crucial role in safeguarding press freedom that is vital in a nation’s vibrant democracy,” Duterte said in a video message posted on the Facebook page of the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson yesterday.

“It also helps ensure that the rights and welfare of the press are well protected and upheld,” he added.

The President also expressed hope that the task force would continue to fulfill its mandate “with utmost excellence and commitment.”

Duterte’s statement came as he continued to draw flak over challenges that Filipino journalists face under his watch, which were highlighted after Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa was named one of the winners of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee described Ressa as “a fearless defender of freedom of expression” and lauded her for exposing what it described as the “abuse of power, use of violence and growing authoritarianism” in the Philippines.

Admin lawmaker honors Ressa

An administration ally in the House of Representatives yesterday joined opposition lawmakers in honoring Ressa on her Nobel Peace Prize.

ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Niña Taduran has filed a resolution commending and congratulating Ressa for the recognition that she said is “a triumph for all media practitioners who continue to search for truth amidst all circumstances.”

“Ressa has proven her indefatigable pursuit for the truth behind the news, having been an investigative journalist for many decades. She is an inspiration to all media workers, to continue their gargantuan task of delivering the news and digging deeply behind the stories when necessary,” Taduran said.

She expressed belief that Ressa’s Nobel Peace Prize should bring more respect to the Philippine media from the world.

So far, only minority congressmen – Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and members of the Makabayan bloc led by Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate – have congratulated Ressa in the 300-member chamber.

Taduran, a former broadcaster of TV5 and partner of Raffy Tulfo, also took the opportunity to again push for the passage of her Media Workers Welfare Bill that seeks to address the plight of media industry workers in the country.

“I am still praying that the Media Workers Welfare Bill which I filed at the start of the 18th Congress will finally be signed into law. This bill will help professionalize the media industry and will ensure journalists, technical people and other media workers of proper safeguards as they perform their jobs,” she said. – Edu Punay



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