World Press Freedom Day

On World Press Freedom Day, Marcos says he appreciates journalists

Dwight de Leon

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On World Press Freedom Day, Marcos says he appreciates journalists

MARCOS JR. AND THE PRESS. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. takes part in the forum mounted by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines on April 15, 2024.

Presidential Communications Office

Marcos, who critics say benefited the most from disinformation tactics during the 2022 election, celebrates the media for the role that they play in combating misinformation

MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., whose family has a complicated history with Philippine media, marked World Press Freedom Day on Friday, May 3, with an expression of gratitude towards the work that journalists do.

“In Bagong Pilipinas (the New Philippines), we celebrate our journalists for their courage in conveying unbiased reports, and we rely on them to continue being the stalwarts of truth and transparency,” he said in a statement.

“As the fourth pillar of our democracy, their words serve as our strongest defense against misinformation and fake news. Now, more than ever, their commitment to their work is crucial,” Marcos added.

Marcos’ road to the presidency featured calculated efforts to shun the media, with his campaign team giving preferential treatment to vloggers over professional journalists.

Critics also said he was the top beneficiary of disinformation during that election season.

He adopted a softer approach towards the press after he assumed the presidency, frustrating vloggers who thought they would have better access to the Palace once Marcos became chief executive.

Marcos, for example, graced the presidential luncheon hosted by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, which used to be an annual event until Rodrigo Duterte declined to participate. He was the first president to attend the forum after the late Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III in 2015.

Marcos has also sporadically granted requests for ambush interviews, but these are still often regulated by his media staff, who select which reporters to call based on the overview of the question they submit beforehand.

This arrangement has complicated efforts to ask Marcos lingering questions in connection with his family’s ill-gotten wealth.

He also appears more inclined to say yes to one-on-one interviews with the foreign press, which explains why it was an Australian journalist who was able to grill Marcos on the human rights abuses and widespread corruption under the martial rule of his father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

That dark period in Philippine history saw a blatant suppression of press freedom, a notable example of which was the seizure of broadcast giant ABS-CBN.

ABS-CBN reopened after the 1986 EDSA Revolution – the uprising that forced the Marcos family into exile – but its broadcast operations were forced to end during the Duterte administration.

Marcos Jr. did not double down on the harassment tactics against the media network. However, the company of his cousin, Speaker Martin Romualdez, has since entered into a joint venture with ABS-CBN.

Perennial problems concerning the media still persist under the present administration, particularly the red-tagging of and incidents of violence against journalists. –

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.