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FALSE: 'Zero' journalists harassed, 'sued by govt' under Duterte admin

Claim: There have been “zero” journalists who “claim to have been harassed by government forces since the start of the Duterte admin,” according to a Facebook status post by Krizette Laureta Chu.

Chu also claimed that there have been "zero" journalists who were "charged and sued by the government for slander or libel."

In a lengthy post, Chu listed several other claims that deny the attacks on the Philippine media. She shared her post on Facebook on November 10, and got over 2,100 shares, 8,500 reactions, and 537 comments as of writing.

Rating: FALSE

The facts: Media monitor Freedom for Media, Freedom for All Network’s latest count of attacks and threats against journalists since Duterte took office stood at 154 as of December 5, 2019. Out of these, 69 “had linked state agents” as perpetrators.

Of these 69 cases, 27 of the alleged perpetrators came from the national government, which included officials from the executive and legal branches, as well as all Cabinet posts under the Office of the President and the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

The Freedom for Media, Freedom for All Network consists of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, MindaNews, Philippine Press Institute, and Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. The full report is available here.

Intimidation and harassment came in different ways. In 2018, Rappler reporter Pia Ranada was banned from entering Malacañang Palace as well as from covering other presidential events after almost two years of constant coverage. She was the only reporter from the press corps that was suddenly not allowed to enter the Palace, and was told that order was "from up high." (READ: Reporter Pia Ranada: 'If I can be targeted, so can anyone else who is critical')

President Duterte himself has also repeatedly threatened he would personally block the franchise renewal of broadcasting network ABS-CBN Corporation for allegedly refusing to air his political ads for the 2016 elections. The President has been making this threat since 2017. (READ: Duterte to ABS-CBN: Sorry, don't expect franchise renewal)

He has also warned other media outlets, including the Philippine Daily Inquirer, for their alleged biased reporting about him. (READ: Duterte's target: The Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Chu's claim that no journalist has been "sued by the government for libel" is also false. There have been at least 8 journalists sued, arrested, or convicted of libel filed by government officials under the Duterte administration, based on CMFR records.

The most recent case recorded was of two broadcasters in Kidapawan City who were convicted of online libel on March 22, 2019 on charges filed by North Cotabato Governor Emmylou “Lala” Taliño-Mendoza. The journalists were Eric Rodinas, anchor of Radyo Natin, and freelance broadcaster Larry Baja Subillaga Jr. 

In August 2017, Rappler reporter Rambo Talabong was also sued by former interior and local government undersecretary and now Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones. The case was dismissed by the Quezon City prosecutor for lack of probable cause.

The Philippines ranked 134th out of 180 countries in the 2019 Global Press Freedom Index, one spot down from the previous year. –

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