Press freedom was strenghtened in the country under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte said Maguindanao Governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu.

In an interview during the 2018 National Anti-Drug Abuse Council Performance Award recently, Mangudadatu said intimidation and threats made to members of the media in his province have been significantly reduced since he was elected as governor.

“When Mayor Duterte became President, journalists really had more freedom of expression.”

He said media freedom has been further strengthened when the President assumed office in 2016.

“Nung naging Presidente si Mayor Duterte talagang nagkaroon ng malayang pamamahayag ang ating mga journo (When Mayor Duterte became President, journalists really had more freedom of expression),” Mangudadatu, whose wife and 57 other people including journalists were killed in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre, said.

For his part, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Mon Cualoping said the administration of President Duterte, through the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), ensures the protection of media workers in the country.

“(The PTFoMS is) the first in the world. The administrative order was signed by the President and PCOO has intensified cascading and downloading the operations manual to the different regions and together with our partner agencies DOJ, DILG, PNP to make sure that the Fourth Estate will be strong, safe, and secured as part of our democracy,” Cualoping stressed.

“The administrative order was signed by the President to make sure that the Fourth Estate will be strong, safe, and secured as part of our democracy.”

PTFoMS Executive Director Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco earlier reported that the PTFoMS had a “fruitful and very productive year” in 2018, highlighted by the Philippines’ removal from the Reporters Without Borders’ (Reporters Sans Frontières) list of five most dangerous countries for journalists.

Sy Egco said the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), another international journalism group, has also noted the Philippines’ “improved status” in the 2018 Global Impunity Index.

PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar earlier paid tribute to the victims of Maguindanao massacre.

Sy Egco said Andanar is the first presidential media head to attend a wreath-laying ceremony for the massacre victims.

Out of the 58 victims in the Nov. 23, 2009 Maguindanao Massacre, 32 were media workers covering the filing of certificate of candidacy of Mangudadatu who was then challenging Andal ‘Unsay’ Ampatuan Jr. for the gubernatorial post.

 

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