(UPDATED) - On World Press Freedom Day, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar assured that the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte will continue to promote and protect freedom of the press in the Philippines.
Malacañang, for its part, said it will support "accurate, fair and non-partisan reports".
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte believes in the "important role the press plays in our great democracy."
He added that Duterte acknowledged the fourth estate as his government's "partners for genuine change."
"The Duterte Administration assures members of the press that it will support them in the free exercise of their profession and in crafting accurate, fair and non-partisan reports for the Filipino people," Panelo said in a statement issued Friday, May 3.
Panelo also stressed that the current administration does not condone media violence and repression of information.
He noted that the Chief Executive has issued and implemented orders aimed at advancing freedom of information within this branch of government and giving protection to media workers.
In a separate statement, Andanar disputed allegations of oppression of the press.
"Asahan niyo po na patuloy na irerespeto ng Duterte administration ang press freedom sa bansa taliwas sa mga alegasyon ng iilan," Andanar said in a statement.
(Expect that the Duterte administration will continue to respect press freedom, contrary to the allegations of some critics.)
"Tayo naman po ay kaisa ng lahat ng mediamen sa bansa at sa buong mundo sa pagsusulong at pangangalaga sa karapatan sa press freedom," he added.
(We are one with the mediamen in the country as well as in the entire world in promoting and protecting the right to press freedom.)
Duterte has been criticized locally and globally over the supposed oppressive and alarming conditions being faced by the Philippine media.
Duterte has a complicated relationship with the media, especially with some news outlets like Philippine Daily Inquirer, ABS-CBN and Rappler which are critical of his administration.
Andanar, however, stressed that the Duterte government, through the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), is doing its best to protect members of the press in the country.
The Communications chief added that his agency, the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), is exhausting all means to fight "fake news" meant to destroy freedom of expression.
"Ilan lamang po sa mga patunay na iginagalang at pinoprotektahan ng administrasyon ang mga mamamahayag sa bansa ay ang Presidential Task Force on Media Security o PTFoMS na agad na nilagdaan ng pangulo sa unang mga buwan ng kanyang pamamahala," Andanar said.
(The creation of Presidential Task Force on Media Security or PTFoMS during the President's first months in office is proof that the administration respects and protects the press in the country.)
"Tayo naman po sa PCOO ay patuloy ang kampanya natin laban sa disinformation o pagpapakalat ng fake news sapagkat isa po ito sa sumisira sa malayang pamamahayag," he added.
(We, in the PCOO, continue our campaign against disinformation or fake news because it destroys freedom of expression.)
In a separate statement, the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) said it continues to support media practitioners in the country.
"The PTFoMS has always espoused the need to uplift and strengthen professional and ethical standards for media practitioners in the country in light of the ibservation that the so-called vulnerabilities of media workers are deeply rooted in their failure to adhere to the fundamental principles of truthfulness, fairnerss, and accuracy in reporting the news," it said.
As for Panelo, it was also during the current administration that drastic improvements have began in the Philippines’ state television, as he cited the construction of Davao and Cordillera Broadcast Hubs and introduction of Salaam TV, the first Muslim-oriented television channel in the country, and soon, Lumad TV.
"As he (Duterte) himself said to the members of the media and by paraphrasing the words of Evelyn Beatrice Hall in her book entitled The Friends of Voltaire, 'I may not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it,'" Panelo said. (SunStar Philippines)