By Minerva Newman
CEBU CITY – British Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce told local media practitioners that Britain aims “to shine a global spotlight on media freedom and in so doing to raise the cost to those abusing or restricting that freedom.”
Pruce visited Cebu for the first time Thursday and spoke at the Forum on Media Freedom and Responsibility.
“In an era where freedom of the press is under attack on all fronts, World Press Freedom Day has become more than just a day of celebration. It has become a staunch reminder of the need to uphold the highest standards of objective and fact-based journalism,’ he said.
The UN General Assembly declared May 3 as World Press Freedom Day 26 years ago.
Pruce said that nations around the world have come to recognize that the public requires access to information to effectively exercise their democratic rights.
According to Freedom House, only 13 percent of world’s population enjoys a free press. Pruce said 2018 was one of the deadliest years ever for journalists, around the world. During that year, 99 journalists were killed, 348 were imprisoned and 60 were held hostage.
He said there are still many cases of unresolved incidents involving journalists. He cited the Maguindanao Massacre in which 34 journalists were killed and remains unresolved after nearly a decade.
“A free and responsible media is fundamental to an open and democratic society, holding the powerful to account, speaking up for those who have no voice and fighting corruption,” Pruce said.
To pursue this global campaign, the British and Canadian governments will co-host a two-day media freedom international conference in London on July 10-11 this year, the ambassador said.
The event will bring together governments, journalists, civil society, ministers, academe and the wider media from around the world to promote media freedom and discuss ways to address the emerging threats it faces.
Pruce said UK is concerned over the threats to media freedom and responsibility. “We seek to reinforce to deepen media freedom, that it is not okay to torture, threaten or kill journalists,” he said.
The media freedom campaign also includes the issues of responsibility and professionalism, sharing information and media literacy and exploring ways for people to recognize what is fake information, Pruce said.