MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines slid 6 spots in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index amid President Rodrigo Duterte's continuous attacks against the media.
From 127th place in 2017, the Philippines was ranked 133rd out of 180 countries this year, in the index released by media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The country scored 42.53 points.
"The dynamism of the media has also been checked by the emergence of a leader who wants to show he is all powerful," RSF said.
The media watchdog also pointed out that the Duterte administration "developed several methods for pressuring and silencing journalists who criticize his notorious war on drugs."
RSF cited Duterte's verbal attacks against the Philippine Daily Inquirer and ABS-CBN, as well as the revocation of Rappler's registration. (READ: EXPLAINER: How SEC's Rappler decision is a test case for press freedom)
"The line separating verbal violence from physical violence is dissolving," the media watchdog said. "Duterte not only constantly insults reporters but has also warned them that they 'are not exempted from assassination.'"
RSF also called the Philippines "Asia's deadliest country for media” after 4 journalists were killed in 2017. (WATCH: When Philippine media is threatened)
Overall, RSF said the 2018 World Press Freedom Index "reflects growing animosity towards journalists" worldwide.
"Hostility towards the media, openly encouraged by political leaders, and the efforts of authoritarian regimes to export their vision of journalism pose a threat to democracies," it said.
"More and more democratically-elected leaders no longer see the media as part of democracy's essential underpinning, but as an adversary to which they openly display their aversion." – Rappler.com
Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.