Updated Feb 7, 2019, 5:57:08 AM
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 27) — Two senatorial aspirants who took part in CNN Philippines’ senatorial forum said Philippine media practitioners are not facing any threats.
"Under threat by whom? Is it under threat by criminals? If it’s criminals who kill journalists indiscriminately, of course I will say yes. Right?” Rafael Alunan told CNN Philippines in an exclusive interview.
Alunan and Harry Roque raised their “No” signboards when asked if the Philippine media is facing threats.
“If the insinuation is that the media is being threatened by the government, my god the government is being pilloried every day by the press. We can’t have a freer press than now,” Alunan said.
Alunan added that some media personalities abuse the freedom of the press, saying that they can be “judgmental" and “licentious."
“There are many media personalities that tend to go overboard,” he said.
The former Interior Secretary said laws to protect journalists are already in place, but they are not being implemented.
This was echoed by Roque.
"There’s no extraordinary threat facing the media. Of course the bill of rights is there to guarantee freedom of the press knowing that governments will naturally not like the media. But I think sufficient safeguards exist so that the media can defend itself,” he said.
Meanwhile, former Rep. Neri Colmenares, former Bangsamoro Transition Commission member Samira Gutoc, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, and former Rep. Erin Tañada answered in the affirmative when asked if media in the country face threats.
The Philippines is among Southeast Asian countries considered the worst places for journalists, according to a report of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
The report, entitled "Southeast Asia Media Freedom Report 2018," gave the Philippines 7.7 points out of 10 for media impunity — the highest among the countries in the region.
It counted 12 journalists and media personnel killed under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Malacañang, however, debunked these claims, saying the killing of these journalists had nothing to do with their profession.
Critics have also denounced the tax evasion cases filed against online news outfit Rappler and its chief executive officer Maria Ressa, with some claiming the Duterte administration is harassing the media firm.
Roque disputed critic’s claims, reiterating that Rappler’s case is a legal issue.