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Palace on war zone claim: Ressa was ‘exaggerating’

November 12, 2019 - Tuesday 6:11 PM by MDM

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Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Tuesday said Rappler CEO Maria Ressa was “exaggerating” when she said the Philippines is not a safe place for media practitioners.

“Maria Ressa, my friend, she's always exaggerating. It's only a war zone to those who are involved in drugs and resist violently any warrant of arrest being served to them. Or when they are subject of a buy-bust operation and they violently resist as well as imperil the lives of law enforcement officers,” Panelo said in a statement.

Ressa had given an interview to CBS News in which she said the Philippines is “worse than any war zone” she had ever been in.

“In a war zone you know exactly where the threats are coming from. We've been living through three years of this kind of hell,” Ressa said in the interview.

Panelo, however, said that is only Ressa’s version of the situation in the country.

“That's (her) belief. The fact is every journalist, whether here or abroad, is free to cover events in this country, and they come out alive and well and very good at reporting, even if sometimes exaggerating,” he said.

For his part, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said Ressa’s view “isn’t reflective of the actual environment for journalists in the Philippines.”

“The Philippines’ media environment is vibrant and alive. In fact, criticisms from all sectors of the media are welcomed and encouraged by the Duterte administration,” Andanar said.

“Constructive criticisms, after all, are necessary for us to implement better social services and policies for all Filipinos,” he added. MDM