The press is more free in Nicaragua, Kosovo, Thailand, and Malaysia

The Philippine media is not Asia’s most free. The Reporters san Frontiers ranks the Philippines 139th in its 2008 report on press freedom, down from its slot of 128th last year. The Philippines is below Malaysia, Thailand, and even Timor-Leste. It is several slots down from Chad and Sudan, where the report said that “the slender gains of the past few years in Chad (133rd) and Sudan (135th) were swept away by the overnight introduction of censorship.” (click here to read the full report).It is several slots down from “Gabon (110th), Cameroon (129th), Morocco (122nd), Oman (123rd), Cambodia (126th), Jordan (128th) and Malaysia (132nd), [where] it is strictly forbidden to report anything that reflects badly on the president or monarch, or their family and close associates.”
The Philippines is way below Senegal, ranked 86th, and Algeria (121st) where “journalists are routinely sent to prison under repressive legislation that violates the democratic standards advocated by the UN.”
Malacanang downplays it as a “matter of perception.”
The killing several years ago of a Mindanao journalist for an expose on the fertilizer scam linked to a top government official, the arrest last year of reporters who were covering a legitimate news event, the complaint this year against ABS-CBN for airing an interview with an MILF rebel, the continued threats and innuendos made to reporters and to their companies — these are all a matter of perception.
Just as the disappeared have not really disappeared, and Raymond Manalo was not abducted by the military and the bones they found, based on Manalo’s guidance and recollection, were not found in a military camp. Just as the as P6.9 million cash that was not declared to airport officials here and was found on a Philippine police general in Russia was meant to buy spygear, and was official money that someone just forgot he was actually carrying. These are all a matter of perception.
The surveys that say more people are going hungry, and the public remains dissatisfied with government — these are all a matter of perception.
In George Orwell’s 1984, life was a matter of perception. When you don’t perceive things as government does, you are re-educated until you see things the way government wants you to. Is that what they mean when they say it’s just “a matter of perception?”


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