According to the World Press Freedom Index, released by Reporters Without Borders today (Wednesday, April 25) the Philippines now ranks at 133rd in the league, a drop of six points on last year.
This places the Philippines in the “red” category, which indicates a “bad” press freedom situation.
Explaining the country’s position, the report said: “Shortly before being sworn in as president in June 2016, Rodrigo Duterte cryptically said: ‘Just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination, if you’re a son of a bitch. Freedom of expression cannot help you if you have done something wrong.’ It was a grim warning.
“Four journalists were killed in the Philippines in 2017, making it Asia’s deadliest country for the media. Private militias, often hired by local politicians, silence journalists with complete impunity.
“The government has meanwhile developed several methods for pressuring and silencing journalists who criticise Duterte’s notorious ‘war on drugs.’
“In March 2017, the quick-tempered president lambasted the ‘sons of whore journalists’ at the Daily Philippines Inquirer, the country’s leading daily, and at the biggest TV network, ABS-CBN.
“In January 2018, the authorities revoked the licence of the leading news website, Rappler, which appealed the decision.”
Near neighbours of the Philippines were also placed in the red zone. Their rankings were: Indonesia, 124; Thailand, 140; Malaysia, 145; and Singapore, 151.
The top ten countries are Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Finland, Switzerland, Jamaica, Belgium, New Zealand, Denmark and Costa Rica.
At the other end of the scale is North Korea, firmly in the “black” category at 180th, denoting a “very bad” press freedom situation. Other black countries include China, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Laos and Cuba.
Published annually since 2002, the World Press Freedom Index ranks 180 countries based on an evaluation of pluralism, independence of the media, quality of legislative framework and safety of journalists in each country.
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