Dureza underscores media role in creating safe environment

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DAVAO CITY – Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza on Thursday emphasized the role of journalists in building an environment conducive to exercising free speech and protecting human rights.

“If journalists can do that, journalists can exercise the basic tenets of journalism – to be truthful and bold in their work,” Dureza said.

Dureza spoke at the two-day Mindanao Media Safety and Security Summit at Eden Nature Park here, where he reminded Mindanao-based journalists “not only practice their profession but must also see to it they are not negligent on their protection”.

He added: “You must also help create an enabling environment to human rights and exercise of free speech.”

Dureza, a former press secretary and a journalist during Martial Law, recalled how some mediamen in his days had to face threats to stop reporting on issues yet can still “write truthfully and factually.”

He conceded that in some areas in Mindanao, the lives of community journalists remain at risk “but it should not stop them from factual writing.”

“If we live in critical areas, would that make us less accurate or truthful? No. If we cannot continuously practice our basic hugot as journalist huwag na lang mag journalist (then don’t be a journalist),” he maintained.

Dureza also defended left-leaning journalists, saying their rights must also be protected as they are part of the Fourth Estate.

Edith Caduaya, the president of Mindanao Independent Press Council (MIPC) that organized the summit, said journalists are facing more challenges in the age disinformation.

Fake news, Caduaya said, has become a tool against the working press.

“It imperative that we stand together, unite our ranks to protect ourselves,” she said.

She said the summit aims to increase people’s awareness on the critical role of the press to ensure the continued preservation of democracy in the Philippines. –Lilian C Mellejor/PNA

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