MANILA – Malacañang slammed Rappler CEO and founder Maria Ressa for claiming that the environment for journalists in the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte was “far worse than any war zone.”
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that Ressa’s statement were just pure exaggeration as he insists that the media scribes in the country were free to report for or against the administration.
“She’s always exaggerating. It’s only a war zone to those who are involved in drugs and who resist violently any warrant of arrest being served to them or when they’re the subject of a buy-bust operation and they violently resist as well as imperil the lives of the law enforcement officers,” Panelo said.
Ressa, in an interview with the CBS News 60 Minutes recently, claimed that the environment for journalists in the Philippines is “far worse than any war zone that I’ve been in.”
Ressa, who was arrested earlier this year due to cyber libel, violations of the country’s anti-dummy laws, and tax evasion cases, also said that the media have been “living through three years of this kind of hell.”
Panelo, however, refuted the veteran journalist saying that there was no threat to the Filipino journalists even if a report from the Committee to Protect Journalists showed that the country is the fifth most dangerous country for journalists.
“The fact is every journalist, whether here or abroad, is free to cover any event in this country; They come out alive and well and very good at reporting, even if sometimes exaggerating,” Panelo said.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the environment for journalists, as perceived by Ressa, “isn’t reflective of the actual environment for journalists in the Philippines.”
“The Philippines’ media environment is vibrant and alive. In fact, criticisms from all sectors of the media are welcomed and encouraged by the Duterte administration,” Andanar said./PN