State agents were linked to more than half of the total 223 cases of attacks and threats against members of the Philippine media since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in 2016.
They were the alleged perpetrators in 114 cases, based on consolidated data from the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).
The police and the military were linked to a combined 42 cases. Local government officials were linked to 38 cases, while national government officials were linked to 34 cases.
Masbate-based freelance journalist Ronnie Villamor, one of 19 journalists killed under the Duterte administration, was killed by soldiers in November 2020 in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
Soldiers claimed he was armed and was killed in an encounter, an account disputed by the NUJP. The journalists’ union said Villamor was covering a land dispute in Barangay Matanglad of Milagros town when he was killed.
At least two other journalists were jailed over allegations of illegal possession of firearms and explosives. Manila Today Editor Lady Ann Salem was arrested in December 2020. She was released in March.
Frenchie Mae Cumpio of Eastern Vista remains in prison, however. She was arrested in February 2020 for illegal possession of firearms, which Karapatan human rights group said were planted.
The arrest came after Quimpo reported being tailed by men in motorcycles without plate numbers in December 2019.
Salem and Quimpo were just two of several journalists red-tagged by the government that has increasingly shown intolerance for dissent.
The Duterte administration also cancelled the franchise of ABS-CBN, formerly the country’s biggest network, resulting in the shutdown of its regional stations while the company continues limited operations in the country’s capital.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also cancelled the registration of online news web site Rappler.com. Rappler brought th case to the Court of Appeals, which remanded it to the SEC.
Outside attacks and threats perpetrated by state agents, at least 29 cases were linked to private individuals and 22 other cases were attributed to online trolls.
NUJP also recorded at least 37 libel cases filed against journalists under the Duterte administration.
— PCIJ, May 2021