Palace cites journalists’ crucial role amid pandemic

MANILA — Malacañang on Sunday praised journalists and other media workers, stressing that the role they play is even more important during the time of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque joined media workers around the world in observing World Press Freedom Day.

He assured that the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte will continue to uphold the rights and freedom of the press in the country.

“The Philippines enjoys a free and vibrant press, and this Administration places great importance to the vital role of a fair and democratic media in having a well-informed and empowered citizenry. In this time of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, this role has become more relevant,” Roque said.

He emphasized the need for Filipino households to get “timely, accurate and transparent” reporting of this global health emergency and government efforts to address this situation.

By reporting the news, Roque said journalists and media workers promote public awareness and engagement and accountability in public service.

Roque, meanwhile, expressed hope that all journalists and other media workers remain safe while covering the health crisis.

“As media workers continue reporting in the frontlines, we pray for everyone’s safety as we laud all those in front of and behind the scenes in bringing truthful information to the homes of every Filipino family,” he said.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar, in a separate statement, reminded the public of the Duterte administration’s commitment to press freedom.

He said Duterte formed the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) and signed Executive Order (EO) 2 on Freedom of Information (FOI) and Republic Act 11458 to protect the life, liberty, and security of media workers.

PTFoMS, created through Administrative Order 1 signed by Duterte in October 2016, is tasked to ensure the safety of media workers and address the distinction attached to the Philippines as one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.

Signed in August 2019, RA 11458 expands the coverage of a law protecting journalists, including broadcast and online journalists, from revealing confidential sources.

Duterte also signed EO 2 on Freedom Of Information in July 2016 that requires disclosure of all government records involving public interest and upholds the constitutional right of people to information on matters of public concern.World Press Freedom Day is observed every May 3 to remind governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics.

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