Philippines Government and Media
Government Type: Republic with a Presidential Form of Government
Head of State / Leader: President Rodrigo Roa Duterte
Political Party: PDP–Laban
Political Position: Center-Left, Left-wing populism, Filipino nationalism
World Press Freedom Rank: Philippines 136/180
In 2020, Reporters Without Borders ranked the Philippines 136/180 in their Press Freedom Index, stating that the Philippines is “Holding the line against Duterte’s attacks.” They further report that “Three Philippine journalists were killed in 2019, probably by thugs working for local politicians, who can have reporters silenced with complete impunity.”
In 2016 President Duterte targeted journalists by saying “you are not exempted from assassination if you are a son of a bitch”.
Human Rights Watch reports that government authorities in the Philipines are using COVID-19 law against those that are critical of the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Government Influence on Media: Media outlets in the Philippines are mostly privately owned by prominent families and businesses. For example, The Lopezes, who own ABS-CBN, the Yap Family (owners of Manila Bulletin), The Rufino-Prieto Family (owner of the Philippine Daily Inquirer). The Philippine government also runs some TV stations such as PTV 4, IBC 13, and RPN 9 (Radio Philippines Network) with a mixed level of ownership.
Government influence on private media outlets increased after the election of President Rodrigo Duterte. The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) whose members are appointed by the President, regulates and supervises radio and television broadcast stations, cable television (CATV), and pay television. On May 5, 2020, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) initially refused to renew the Philippine TV network ABS-CBN’s franchise license and eventually ordered it to shut down. ABS-CBN is known for its critical coverage of President Duterte and therefore is regularly criticized by President Duterte.
Similarly, the Philippine Daily Inquirer is also known for its critical coverage of President Duterte’s Administration, therefore, it is subject to President Duterte’s criticism such as “Inquirer, you are bulls—,”. He also threatened tax-evasion charges against the Prieto family. Later the owners announced they would sell the daily to businessman Ramon Ang, who is known to be close to the President. Social news network Rappler is also subject to the President’s criticism due to its coverage. In conclusion, the Philippine government has direct and indirect control over the media outlets and this control and influence have significantly increased under President Duterte’s leadership.