PH rises in world press freedom index rankings

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 27) — The Philippines' rating in the 2017 World Press Freedom index improved following the decline in the number of journalists killed in the Philippines in 2016.

This was reflected in the report released by media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders (RSF, Reporters Sans Frontieres).

In its 2017 report released Wednesday, RSFranked the Philippines 127th in terms of media freedom out of 180 countries, giving it a global score of 41.08.

The global score is scaled from zero to 100, with zero as the highest possible score. Last year, the Philippines ranked 138th in the index, scoring 44.66 points.

"In Asia, the Philippines rose 11 places, partly because of a fall in the number of journalists killed in 2016," the report said.

Data collected by RSF showed there were no Filipino journalists confirmed killed in the course of their work in 2016, compared to three who were slain the year before.

But despite this year's higher score, RSF included the Philippines among countries with "difficult situations," saying President Rodrigo Duterte's attitude towards the media "does not bode well" for local media.

"Rodrigo Duterte, who was sworn in as President in June 2016, has alarmed media freedom defenders with his unveiled encouragement of violence against journalists," it said.

It added private militias, allegedly hired by local politicians, silence journalists with complete impunity in the country.

At least one Filipino journalist has been reported killed this year.

Joaquin Briones, a Masbate-based columnist for the tabloid Remate was shot dead on March 13 after allegedly receiving death threats, news reports said.

The group also expressed concern over blocktiming, an airtime rental system in the Philippines, which it said allows anyone to host their own political program, "blurring the frontiers" of journalism.

Europe: Home of the most free press

European countries dominated the top five spots in rankings for press freedom.

Norway ranked first in this year's index, with a score of 7.6, followed by Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and the Netherlands, respectively.

North Korea, on the other hand, scored the lowest in press freedom with a grade of 84.98.

This, as its "totalitarian regime" continues to extend rigorous control over information and news in the country.

RSF has published the World Press Freedom Index annually since 2002. The report serves an indicator of media freedom based on evaluations of pluralism, media independence, and respect for the safety and freedom of journalists.