PH tumbles to 133rd in 2018 World Press Freedom Index
The Philippines dropped six points in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index of the Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres or RSF), as it noted that the country remains one of the deadliest for journalists in Asia Pacific.
The RSF index released on Wednesday showed the Philippines’ rank falling from 127th in 2017 to 133rd this year, citing President Rodrigo Duterte’s constant tirades and harassment against members of the media, who were voicing criticisms against his adminitration’s so-called war on drugs.
It also cited the murder of four journalists in the country last year.
“In the Philippines, down six places at 133rd, the dynamism of the media has also been checked by the emergence of a leader who wants to show he is all powerful. President Rodrigo Duterte lost no time in warning the ‘sons of whore journalists’ that they would not be spared,” RSF said in a statement.
The group also said there were “countless examples” of the Philippine government’s harassment of journalists that voice any kind of criticism against Duterte’s bloody crackdown against illegal drugs.
“Here again, verbal violence and physical violence are closely linked. With four journalists murdered in connection with their work in 2017, the Philippines is one of the continent’s deadliest countries,” the watchdog said.
It said that violence against journalists is “increasingly worrying” in the country, as well as in other countries like Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan.
The RSF has previously criticized the Philippine government for its order to shut down news website Rappler, and ban its reporters from covering the presidential beat.
It has also called on lawmakers to renew the legislative franchise of Catholic Church-run radio stations across the country that has been pending at Congress for more than a year now.
Since last year, Mr. Duterte has been threatening some media organizations by accusing them of back taxes and also declaring to block the renewal of their franchise.
The Philippines’ rank in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index comes after the Arab state of Jordan, and was a notch higher than Palestine, which has been marred by violent conflict with its neighbor Israel.
Nordic countries – Norway and Sweden – were still regarded as the most respectful of press freedom, at ranked 1st and 2nd, respectively,
Ranked last at 180th was North Korea. RSF cited its government’s “draconian control of communications and the national intranet” in the reclusive country.
The RSF also noted that countries in Asia remained the “worst violator” of press freedom in the world.
It said that Vietnam (175th) and Cambodia (142nd) copy the “Chinese model of state-controlled news and information” as government in the two countries attempt to shut down online media outlets and blogs critical of their leaders.
The watchdog likewise said that the Chinese model’s influence is also being felt by the media in Thailand (140th), Malaysia (145th), and Singapore (151st). /kga
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