• The Philippines was tagged as a "difficult" country for journalists, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
  • "The Philippines is one of the world's deadliest countries for journalists," RSF also said
  • Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility said President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.  "has been amiable" toward the media compared to the past administration

The Philippines jumped 15 notches from last year's 147th ranking to 132nd in the 2023 World Press Freedom Index covering 180 countries.

It was the highest placement of the country in the survey since it ranked 127th in 2017. As the Philippines marked World Press Freedom Day on Wednesday, the country was tagged as a "difficult" country for journalists, according to the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) as noted by Business World.

The study conducted by RSF claimed that the election of Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. as president in June 2022 was "very unsettling" for most Filipino journalists because of the reputation of his father and namesake which the study described as a "former dictator and historic press freedom predator." The study also noted that Marcos' predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte's term was marked by numerous verbal attacks against journalists with "judicial harassment" aimed against any media who oppose the government.

RSF noted the case of Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the news website Rappler, Maria Ressa, who was slapped with several charges including cyber libel. Ressa's 2021 conviction caught the attention of international human rights lawyers including Amal Clooney who described her sentencing as "an affront to the rule of law, a stark warning to the press and a blow to democracy in the Philippines."

"There seem to have been fewer and less violent attacks of this kind since Bongbong Marcos became president but they are still worrisome," RSF said but concluded that "The Philippines is one of the world's deadliest countries for journalists," citing the massacre of 32 journalists in Maguindanao in 2009.

Despite this, there have been some small gains in press freedom.

Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) Executive Director Melinda Quintos de Jesus said Marcos "has been amiable" toward the media "and as far as his speeches go, he seems to have turned the pages compared to his predecessor's actions," she noted in this Inquirer report.

In April, Marcos spoke before the 50th anniversary of the Kapisanan ng Brodkaster Ng Pilipinas and challenged journalists to "ensure the integrity and credibility of information" and to "bring a measure of stability and objectivity, to help our people discern what is the real information and what is propaganda."

Nobel laureate Maria Ressa told AFP she keeps a prison "go bag", bundles of cash for bail, and runs simulations of police raids with her staff as she fights for press freedom in the Philippines