MANILA — As the country celebrated its Independence Day on June 12, the Philippine government stressed its commitment to uphold the principles of press freedom and enhance the protection of journalists.
Speaking before the 12th Conference of the ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information (AMRI) in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, Secretary Sonny Coloma of the Presidential Communications Operations Office assured that the government will avoid any action that may stifle the freedom of the press.
“In a country like ours where freedom of expression is highly valued, freedom of the press is also guarded with extraordinary zeal and vigilance…Government is committed to uphold self-regulation and refrain from actions that may constitute prior restraint on the freedom of the press.”
He highlighted several reforms instituted by the government to ensure openness, transparency, and accountability such as the full disclosure of national and local budget allocations, major disbursements and procurement of major goods and services, and implementation of programs and projects.”
Secretary Coloma, who sat as vice chair of the said Conference, also emphasized the government’s determination to resolve the cases of violence against members of the Philippine media.
“Our government is working closely with media and civil society organizations in pursuing justice for slain journalists; addressing delays in trials of suspected assailants; and extending community assistance as well as enhanced protection measures.”
This year’s AMRI Conference, chaired by Myanmar, carries the theme “Socially Responsible Media for a Peaceful and Prosperous Community.” Information Ministers of the 10 Member States of the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) all expressed their affirmation on the importance of exercising social responsibility in the use of various forms of media, particularly in communicating the work of the ASEAN.
The Ministers also agreed on the need to accelerate the efforts to raise awareness of ASEAN and the benefits of the envisioned ASEAN integration by the year 2015 among the citizens of ASEAN Member States.
The Philippines will host the next AMRI Conference in March 2016.