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Under Duterte, press freedom is still improving, according to the World Press Freedom Index (WPFI).

MANILA, Philippines — Despite the new methodology used in this year’s Reporters Without Borders (RSF) World Press Freedom Index (WPFI), the Philippine press remains freer and “extremely vibrant” under President Rodrigo Roa Duterte compared to former Presidents Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino Jr. and Gloria Macapagal-administrations. Arroyo’s

“Even with the new method used by the Paris-based RSF in determining each country’s rankings in the 2022 World Press Freedom Index, the current administration fared far better than previous administrations, a testament to President Rodrigo Duterte’s unwavering commitment to media freedom,” said Undersecretary Joel M. Sy Egco, Executive Director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS).

Egco reiterated that RSF’s score demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that the country’s media climate has considerably improved since President Duterte took office in 2016.

RSF’s index, according to Egco, is unbiased proof that press freedom has improved under President Duterte. He noted that the index revealed that President Duterte’s presidency averaged 135.8 points from 2017 to 2022, with a high of 147, compared to the late President Aquino’s presidency, which averaged 142.5 points from 2011 to 2016, with a high of 149.

Despite the fact that the Philippines came in at number 147 in this year’s index, RSF stated that the “Philippine media are tremendously dynamic.” “In light of this revised methodology, care should be exercised when comparing the 2022 rankings and scores with those from 2021,” RSF informed readers.

Egco explained that the Ampatuan Massacre, which occurred in 2009 during the presidency of President Arroyo and resulted in the deaths of 32 journalists, has tainted the country’s ranking in the WPFI, and that “it has been very difficult to free ourselves from such a tainted past despite the many concrete steps taken by President Duterte, which have been fully acknowledged by other more reputable international organizations such as the UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific

It should be remembered that it was only in 2019 that the Philippines became a beacon of hope for press freedom, thanks to the Duterte administration’s political will, when the masterminds of the Ampatuan Massacre, Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr and Zaldy Ampatuan, were convicted of 57 counts of murder, along with 28 other co-accused, and more than a dozen others were sentenced to 6–10 years in prison for being accessories.

“Despite our limited financial resources, the government has taken tremendous and verifiable steps to ensure media safety in the country,” Egco said, adding, “Despite our limited financial resources, the government has taken tremendous and verifiable steps to ensure media safety in the country through the PTFoMS.”

“That is why I am urging all presidential candidates to enhance and reinforce the PTFoMS for the sake of our journalists who have been working extremely hard in their efforts to inform our countrymen about the pandemic, heroically confronting it head-on,” he said.

It should be noted that the Philippines is not listed in RSF’s so-called “Red List,” which RSF claims implies “very poor” press freedom conditions.

RSF’s “world’s 10 worst countries for press freedom” does not include the Philippines. Myanmar (176th), where a February 2021 coup d’état set back journalistic freedom by ten years, as well as China, Turkmenistan (177th), Iran (178th), Eritrea (179th), and North Korea (180th), are among the countries red-tagged by RSF.

In contrast to previous years, “RSF’s 2022 World Press Freedom Index: A New Era Of Polarization” did not include a country-specific study on the Philippines.

“Indicators are assessed based on a quantitative survey of press freedom violations and abuses against journalists and media in the 180 countries and territories ranked by RSF, and a qualitative study based on the responses of hundreds of press freedom experts selected by RSF,” RSF explained.

RSF’s index has been openly attacked by certain writers as untrustworthy and opaque.

Meanwhile, in honor of World Press Freedom Day, the PTFoMS hosted many consultation sessions with local journalists in several regions throughout the previous week, in partnership with the Philippine National Police’s regional offices, to promote the safety and security of media workers (PNP).

The signing into law by President Duterte recognizing August 30 as National Press Freedom (NPF) Day in honor of National Hero Marcelo H. del Pilar, the pioneer of Philippine journalism, brings the week-long event to a close.

Egco stated that this historic, landmark measure, along with the creation of the PTFoMS, is one of the Philippines’ most significant contributions to the international community in the promotion of media freedom and safety, as the law aims to raise Filipinos’ awareness of the importance of the press, their rights and social responsibilities, and the elimination of all forms of violence against the press.

President Duterte established the PTFoMS in 2016 as a task force reporting directly to him to battle the perceived impunity in the deaths of journalists that occurred during previous regimes, a first in the world.

Through the efforts of UNESCO, the United Nations declared May 3 as World Press Freedom Day to raise awareness of the importance of press freedom and to remind governments of their responsibility to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined in Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Philippines was mentioned in UNESCO’s recent “World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development Global Report” for the years 2021-2022 as one of the few countries in the world that have implemented “excellent practices and positive measures” to ensure the safety of journalists.

The UNESCO study also mentioned the Duterte administration’s creation of “a dedicated task force for the safety of journalists,” which is now being replicated around the world.

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