On Freedom of the Press Day, Palace Says Administrator Respects and Recognizes Freedom of the Press

MANILA, Philippines – As the Philippines celebrated National Press Freedom Day for the first time on Tuesday, the Office of the Press Secretary gave assurances that the Marcos administration respects the freedom of the press guaranteed by the Constitution .

“Kinikilala and nirerespeto ng ating pamahalaan, sailalim ng pamumuno ni Pangulong Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., ang press press Freedom sa bansa na nakabatay sa ating Saligang Batas o Konstitusyon (The government, under the leadership of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. , recognizes and respects freedom of the press in our country which is enshrined in the Constitution),” publicist Trixie Cruz-Angeles said in a Facebook post.

Republic Act 11699, which proclaimed August 30 each year as National Press Freedom Day, was signed into law last April by former President Rodrigo Duterte. The working holiday is in honor of Marcelo del Pilar, editor and propagandist of the Spanish colonial period, considered the father of Philippine journalism. Del Pilar, editor of the Filipino reformist newspaper La Solidaridad, was born on August 30, 1850.

While the Philippines was previously dubbed the country with the freest press in Asia, various media watchdogs have expressed concern over the constraints Filipino journalists face in carrying out their responsibilities.

According to a report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) last May, the Philippines’ ranking in the World Press Freedom Index has slipped nine notches to 147th out of 180 countries this year. RSF cited “targeted attacks and constant harassment by the government, since 2016, against overly critical journalists and media”.

Some journalists who covered Marcos during the 2022 election campaign complained about difficulties in accessing him, but the president denied this, saying he was “still in public”.

In a recent interview, Angeles said the freedom journalists enjoy will not change under Marcos.

“You’re free to speak. We’re not changing anything. Whatever freedom we have now, it will always be our freedom. Our Constitution guarantees that,” the press secretary said during the swearing-in of the National’s leaders PressClub. August 25.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said it was marking with hope the first National Press Freedom Day “despite knowing that the community is navigating a difficult media landscape”.

“Despite recognition by law of the importance of the press, journalists still face problems with accreditation and access to the government offices they cover, are quickly labeled as purveyors of ‘fake news’ and remain under threat from colonial-era libel law as well as loose interpretations of laws like the Anti-Terrorism Act,” the group said in a statement.

“More than government recognition, it is the media community’s affirmation of freedom of the press and of speech and people’s right to know and the support of the public we serve that will make August 30 — the anniversary of the birth of Marcelo H. Del Pilar – a true celebration of press freedom and journalism in the Philippines,” he added.

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