World Press Freedom Day

WATCH: Rapplers share their challenges in pursuit of press freedom

Vixey Lema

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WATCH: Rapplers share their challenges in pursuit of press freedom
On World Press Freedom Day 2023, Rapplers share the biggest challenges they have faced as they advocate for press freedom in the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – What does it take to be a truth-teller in the Philippines?

On World Press Freedom Day on Wednesday, May 3, Rapplers share the roadblocks they encounter as they advocate for press freedom at a time when spreading fake news and disinformation is lucrative. READ: Investigating troll farms: What to look out for

WATCH: Rapplers share their challenges in pursuit of press freedom

Rappler multimedia reporter Jairo Bolledo shared his experience of receiving threats for reporting the truth.

He said that such acts of intimidation and aggression towards journalists simply show that the Philippines remains unsafe for truth-tellers. “Nakakalungkot [na] just because you report and sinasabi mo ‘yung totoo ay nakakareceive ka ng ganitong pagbabanta sa buhay mo, pagbabanta para saktan ka,” he added.

(It’s sad that reporting the truth can put one’s life and safety at risk.)

He shared the belief of many others that the Philippines has a long way to go to achieve a better, safer media landscape. 

According to the data and monitoring of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), 197 journalists had been killed since 1986. This number includes the two recent killings under the new Marcos administration: Rey Blanco and Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa.

The Philippines also slipped down in the press freedom index ranking of Reporters Without Borders for 2022. 

Rappler head of regions Inday Espina-Varona, who has covered social issues and conflict since the time of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, has this to say: “The challenge has always remained the same.” She cited being red-tagged several times for digging “into the roots of conflict.” READ: Philippines becomes global case study of media repression

Amid the harassment, she said that journalists in the country will continue to shed light on the “least reported” issues, especially in the provinces. 

Rappler head of investigation and research Chay Hofileña emphasized the role of the government in upholding a safe environment for the media.

She said that maligning the reliability and function of media in society serves as a “major stumbling block” and that it “makes the job a lot more difficult.” (READ: Gov’t platforms being used to attack, red-tag media)

“We have a democracy, supposedly, in the Philippines, but it remains a semblance of democracy only if in truth and in fact and in practice journalists are regarded as enemies from whom the truth must be kept secret,” Hofileña said.

A Rappler study shows how the pandemic fueled the competition between mainstream media and social media as source of news and information. (READ: News organizations no longer dominate PH online space – Rappler study)

This only furthers the challenge for journalists to pursue the fight for press freedom in the Philippines no matter what it takes.

For more stories on World Press Freedom Day, visit — 

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Vixey Lema

Vixey Marie Lema is a digital communications specialist.