International Press Freedom Groups Release Annual Reports
PH ranked 127th in 2017 World Press Freedom Index
THE PHILIPPINES ranked 127th in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index compiled by the Paris-based group Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), rising 11 places from its previous ranking of 138.
RSF said that the rise was “partly because of a fall in the number of journalists killed in 2016, but the insults and open threats against the media by President Rodrigo Duterte, another new strongman, do not bode well.” The report also said that the Philippines remains one of the most dangerous countries for media as private militias continue to “silence journalists with complete impunity.”
Annually published since 2002, the Index measures the degree of freedom available to journalists in 180 countries through a two-fold procedure. RSF conducts a qualitative analysis of responses of experts to its questionnaire, which evaluates pluralism, media independence, media environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information. RSF also interprets quantitative data on abuses and acts of violence against journalists during the period evaluated.
The Middle East and North Africa region continues to be the world’s most dangerous region for journalists while the Asia-Pacific region comes third, having the biggest number of “press freedom predators” at the head of the world’s worst dictatorships, including China, North Korea, Laos and Vietnam. Meanwhile, media are freest in the European Union and Balkans region.
RSF noted that media freedom on a global scale has never been so threatened as constraints and violations have risen 14% in a span of five years. In democracies, the age of post-truth, propaganda and suppression of press freedoms have been observed. A rise in strongman rule has hampered free expression and independence in reporting.
Freedom House: Only 13% of World’s Population Enjoys a Free Press
WASHINGTON-BASED watchdog Freedom House published on April 28 its 2017 Freedom of the Press report, which assesses the degree of print, broadcast, and digital media freedom in 199 countries and territories.
The report said, “Only 13 percent of the world’s population enjoys a Free press—that is, a media environment where coverage of political news is robust, the safety of journalists is guaranteed, state intrusion in media affairs is minimal, and the press is not subject to onerous legal or economic pressures.”
Freedom House reported that global press freedom declined to its lowest point in 13 years, as media in democracies are delegitimized by politicians and authoritarian leaders seek to control the press.
Each country and territory is given a total press freedom score based on 23 methodology questions divided into three subcategories: legal environment, political environment, and economic environment. Based on the score, a country or territory is given the status designation of Free, Partly Free or Not Free.
The Philippines was assigned a Partly Free status. According to Freedom House, “In the Philippines, newly elected president Rodrigo Duterte’s slurs and death threats against journalists further inflamed an already dangerous environment for the press and undermined positive steps by the government, such as initiatives on journalists’ safety and freedom of information. The country’s history of extreme violence against the media and impunity for such crimes make Duterte’s statements all the more menacing.”
The Philippines was also listed among the countries that might move toward significant changes in press freedom conditions in the coming year. Freedom House said, “There are concerns that President Rodrigo Duterte’s subordinates and supporters could act on his violent threats against journalists who criticize abuses linked to the government’s war on drugs.”