MANILA - Malacañang on Monday accused Rappler CEO and journalist Maria Ressa of "exaggerating" the environment that journalists are operating under the Duterte administration in the Philippines.
In an interview, Ressa told US-based CBS News that the Philippines is "far worse than any war zone" that she has reported in, as she noted the harassment that she has endured for doing her job.
“She is always exaggerating. It’s only a war zone to those who is involved in drugs and who resist violently any warrant of arrest being served to them or if they are subject to a buy-bust operation and they violently resist as well as imperil the lives of those law-enforcement officers,” Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
The official insisted that journalists are free to do their job in the country without fear for their safety.
“That’s their belief but the fact is, every journalist, whether here or abroad, is free to cover any event in this country, and they come up alive and well,” Panelo said.
The International Federation of Journalists reported in December 2018 that the Philippines is the deadliest country for journalists in Southeast Asia following reports of threats to the press and the number of unresolved media killings in the country.
Malacañang, however, downplayed the media killings, saying that it is very likely that the journalists are killed due to personal reasons and not as a consequence of doing their jobs.