Former journalist Jiggy Manicad’s claim on press freedom being not under attack was crticized by some of his colleagues in the media industry.
Manicad, a senatorial aspirant under the Hugpong ng Pagbabago slate of Sara Duterte, said in an interview that Rappler’s legal troubles are isolated and that the government has basis for investigating the online news agency.
“Now, because of that handling, someone got angry and ordered an investigation, does it really translate to an attack on press freedom? How come in other networks, it’s not like that?” he said in Filipino.
“I think the government has basis to say there are foreign funds that went into Rappler and it’s a violation of the constitution,” he added.
The College Editors Guild of the Philippines expressed its disappointment over Manicad’s statement.
CEGP STATEMENT: On Jiggy Manicad’s claim on press freedomIn a television interview, Monday, former broadcast…
“It is easy to shrug off the deleterious state of press freedom under a tyrannical rule for the sake of enriching power and personal interests, even at the expense of the toiling Filipino people,” the group said on Facebook.
The group described Manicad as a “senator-wannabe” who opted to side with “tyrants” like President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies.
“If senator-wannabe Jiggy Manicad must know, tyrants and those who opt to side with them can never silence the alagad ng midya. The Philippine press has fearlessly exposed the ills of the society and will unceasingly do so under the fascist and corrupt Duterte regime,” it added.
Meanwhile, veteran author-journalist Joel Pablo Salud also questioned Manicad’s perception on press freedom despite the spate of media killings and intimidation to other media outfits under Duterte’s presidency.
"Press freedom not under attack." — Jiggy ManicadHijo, what is your idea of being under attack? Members of the media…
“What about harassment? Intimidation? Perfect words to describe what is going on behind the scenes with Rappler, Inquirer, Bulatlat and ABS-CBN–all critical of the Duterte presidency. I wouldn’t call it a party as there are only bad spirits being served. So, if not press freedom, then what is under attack? Surely not the coffee press,” Salud ranted on Facebook.
He cited Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, a former reporter, who was also criticized to have turned his back to the values he held before.
“In this day and age when the face of “exemplary journalism” mirrors the face of Andanar, we need courage more than ever,” he said.
“Such display of courage can be daunting to some who’d readily embrace shame than stand his ground. Shame. I suggest you look it up in the dictionary,” he added.
Government vs journalists
In 2017, Duterte threatened to file lawsuits against the Philippine Daily Inquirer and its owners.
Duterte had also repeatedly threatened to file charges of multiple syndicated estafa against ABS-CBN Corporation and had voiced out his opposition against renewing the entertainment giant’s franchise.
Rappler CEO Maria Ressa is facing a string of tax evasion cases and an order of business license revocation from the Securities and Exchange Commission due to alleged violation of the constitutional ban on foreign ownership of media.
Meanwhile, the collective organization of Freedom for Media, Freedom for All Network reported 99 documented cases of direct and indirect assaults against the media during the first two years of the Duterte administration.