Media groups have written an editorial commenting on the relationship between the Philippines’ president Rodrigo Duterte and the state media, calling for better reporting, pay and protection for journalists.
Philippine Centre for Investigative Journalism, who released the editorial (PCIJ). Image: PCIJ

On Wednesday, a group of media practitioners, including journalists, student publications, news organisations, and citizens advocates, came together to discuss the current state of news media in the Philippines, urging the establishment of a Freedom of Information Law. The editorial, called “The Prez and the Press”, revises the knotty relationship between the two, asking both to fulfill their respective roles.

The president’s role in the Philippines is crucial as he is in charge of maintaining peace and order, and arbitrating policies both at local and international level. For this reason, the media “must report more – and better – about him, his policies and his actions,” the editorial says “guided by the best standards of accuracy, fairness and context.”

However, the presidents’ “volcanic” language has put limits on freedom of expression, chilling the daily report of news as journalists find it harder and more unsafe to question and report about him. In fact, he recently affirmed that killed journalists deserved their fate, and future journalists might receive a similar treatment if they are not “upright”. More of his speeches fail to paint a bright future for local journalists. For this reason, the editorial stresses the urgency of a Freedom of Information law that can guarantee safety and transparency across all Filipino media.

The editorial asks Duterte to fulfill his mandate by promoting “transparency, accountability, and good governance”. If the media must be fair, accountable, transparent and accessible to all the Filipinos, the editorial argues, so must the president.