BBC journalist Stephen Sackur shot down Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa’s claim that press freedom is under attack while President Rodrigo Duterte is in power, saying her company continues to exist.
In a 24-minute interview on “Hardtalk,” Sackur asked Ressa for her basis in saying press freedom is dead under Duterte just because she was convicted of cyber libel. He pointed out that several media outfits continue to operate freely under what was supposed to be a hostile environment.
“There is no doubt that it’s just not you that suffered from repressive tactics coming from government agencies. But nonetheless, the notion that all sorts of freedom of expression are now curtailed and eliminated in the Philippines surely isn’t right,” Sackur said.
“If you look at your country today, there is still multitude of diverse opinion across the spectrum of politics in different platforms of media… afterall, your website hasn’t been shut down, it continued to this day. The Philippines is not North Korea, nothing alike,” he added.
Sackur asked Ressa if she thinks Filipinos are sympathetic to her plight considering that Duterte’s approval rating is at a record high 80 percent. He said it was a figure other world leaders can only dream of.
“Everything you say about what Duterte is doing is not deterring a really big majority of Filipinos from giving him their backing,” he said.
Sackur also asked Ressa for proof of Rappler’s data on the extrajudicial killings allegedly happening under the administration, saying the majority of Filipinos approve of Duterte’s drug war based on surveys by the Social Weather Stations.