Palace: PH journos enjoy free-market ideas &


JOURNALISTS in the Philippines are enjoying their freedom of the press, as President Rodrigo Duterte defends "free market of ideas," said Malacañang Tuesday, April 17, in an attempt to refute the supposedly "oppressive" work environment for the media in the country.

In a statement, the presidential spokesman, Salvador Panelo, said that the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) allegation about the condition of the Philippine press was unfounded.

Panelo made the remark, emphasizing that neither Rappler nor his boss, Maria Ressa, represent all the media in the country.

"The Committee's Symposium on the Protection of Journalists from New York to the situation of Maria Ressa, noting that the alleged oppressive work environment for journalists in the Philippines is alarming, citing cases brought against her and Rappler, is precipitate "a generalization that has no basis in fact or in law," he said.

"Ms. Ressa or Rappler does not represent all of the media in the Philippines. There are local journalists who are equally critical, even outrageously hostile and biased toward the administration's policies, but continue to enjoy their profession free of charge." or actions for not violating any law outside the practice of his profession, "he added.

CPJ, based in New York, has expressed concern about the supposedly "oppressive" and "alarming" conditions faced by journalists who "challenge" the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

CPJ said there appeared to be a pattern of harassment against the local press, which are critical of the Duterte government, citing the 11 general cases filed against Rappler.

Panelo, however, told the foreign group that freedom of the press has nothing to do with filing lawsuits against Ressa.

He added that Ressa invokes freedom of expression and hides under the cloak of freedom of the press "when she is criminally accused of a violation of the law unrelated to the exercise of her right to freedom of expression."

"We emphasize that she is facing criminal charges for her practice of illegal acts, which include tax evasion offenses, violation of our anti-foolish law, and violation of our cyber-defamation laws, which the investigating prosecutor and the courts have tried to find probable cause she could probably have committed the same, "said Panelo.

"She can not escape responsibility for this just because of her profession or politics. Our system is legal and no one is above it nor exempt from it," he added.

Denying CPJ's allegation, Panelo said the government is doing its best to protect the press in the country under the leadership of the president.

He pointed out that he was under the watchful eye of Duterte, when the Philippines were removed from the list as one of the most lethal countries for the media in the annual report of 198 of the organization Reporters Without Borders.

He also noted that Duterte also issued his first administrative order that is designed to promote media security.

"He (administrative order) has also created a task force that has taken significant steps in providing a secure working environment for media workers in the country by investigating and acting in more than 30 cases of threats and harassment against journalists as well as reinvestigating the most forgotten cases of media murders in the barangays, "Panelo said.

"The president himself defends the free market of ideas and will continue to do so while preserving the vibrant democracy of our country," he added. (SunStar Philippines)


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