PDP-LABAN standard bearer and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte vowed to extend more protection to the country’s journalists, many of whom work under dangerous and even deadly conditions. “The state must protect the media,” Duterte said, especially since the media play a vital role in a democracy.
Duterte made the statement as the National Press Club on Wednesday challenged presidential candidates to lay down their agenda on media, particularly on solving media killings in the country.
“In a democracy, the role of media is very important. In the absence of a credible opposition party, you can rely on the media,” Duterte said.
He added it is the media that bring the wrongdoings of the government to the public’s attention. Unfortunately, it is this role that often exposes journalists to danger.
According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), 170 journalists have been killed in the country since 1986.
Duterte’s spokesperson Peter Laviña said Duterte will put up special courts and prosecution panels to handle cases of media killings. He will also offer rewards and incentives for the immediate arrest, prosecution, and conviction of the killers.
Laviña said Duterte will give police investigators and prosecutors quick and limited time to resolve these cases.
“If not, they might as well look for another job,” he added.
Laviña said Duterte has been a staunch protector of media rights, respecting their role as the “Fourth Estate” and never questioning them when they write or say anything critical of his administration.
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