MANILA -- Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Friday that President Rodrigo Duterte believes in the important role of the press in the country's democracy and as partners of genuine change.
"As he himself said to the members of the media and by paraphrasing the words of Evelyn Beatrice Hall in her book entitled, 'The Friends of Voltaire', 'I may not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it,'" Panelo said in a statement on World Press Freedom Day.
He noted that the government does not condone media violence and repression of information.
"In fact, the Chief Executive issued and implemented orders which advance freedom of information within this branch of government and further the protection of media workers through the creation of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security during the first months of his presidency," Panelo said.
He said the drastic improvements in the country's state television began during the Duterte administration, with the construction of the Davao and Cordillera Broadcast Hubs and introduction of Salaam TV, which is the first Muslim-oriented television channel in the country, and soon, the Lumad TV.
"The Duterte administration assures members of the press that it will support them in the free exercise of their profession and in crafting accurate, fair and non-partisan reports for the Filipino people," he said.
Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar earlier said the government will continue to respect media freedom in the Philippines.
Andanar cited the creation of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), which was approved and signed by the President on the first month of his term, as proof of this respect for media freedom
Meanwhile, on the eve of World Press Freedom Day, the National Press Club of the Philippines (NPC) criticized media outfits and organizations that reportedly receive foreign funding for their operations.
"For many years now, other media organizations are directly receiving from foreign sources to fund their activities, particularly from front organizations identified with the United States' Central Intelligence Agency, and from non-government organizations based in Europe," the NPC said in a statement Thursday.
The NPC also accused the groups of committing "the worst form of corruption when they started accepting what amounts to as bribe money from foreign interests." (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency