Sat, 20 Jul 2019

A Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) mission to the Philippines, led by Board Chair Kathleen Carroll (center), found increasing levels of intimidation and a shrinking space for the free press. She was joined by joined by Peter Greste (right), director of the Australia-based Alliance for Journalists' Freedom (AJF), and CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler (left). Screengrab from NUJP's Twitter account.

NEW YORK-based press freedom watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) found during their mission to the country last week that journalists in the Philippines are facing increasing levels of intimidation and that the space for the free press is shrinking.

The mission was led by CPJ Board Chair Kathleen Carroll. Peter Greste, director of the Australia-based Alliance for Journalists Freedom (AJF) and Steven Butler, program coordinator of CPJ Asia were with Carroll.

CPJ said they had a meeting with wide range of journalists and government officials.

Based on these meetings, CPJ is extremely concerned about the various types of formal and informal pressure that journalists face. A series of 11 legal cases against the news website Rappler that appear to be politically motivated have created a sense of fear throughout the media industry, leading to self-censorship. Government officials have repeatedly attacked the press, and are threatening to withhold the license of the TV network ABS-CBN, CPJ said in a press release.

CPJ also took note of the red tagging of journalists and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on alternative news groups.

The National Press Club (NPC) slammed the report, saying it is slanted and inaccurate. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra also questioned CPJs findings, saying the Philippine press is the freest in the region.

The Philippines is fifth in CPJs 2018 Global Impunity Index, which is published annually on November 2 to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists. It lists countries with the worst records in solving journalist killings.

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