MANILA – Malacañang on Friday encouraged Filipinos to exercise their right to express their views on government policies, assuring them that President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration uphold free speech in the Philippines.
In a virtual presser, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said he sees no reason for the Duterte government to curtail Filipinos’ freedom of speech and expression.
“Wala pong dapat magkaroon ng pag-alinlangan ang mga tao sa pag-exercise ng kanilang karapatan ng malayang pananalita dahil iyan po ay garantiyado ng ating Saligang Batas (The public should not hesitate to exercise their right to free speech because that is guaranteed under the 1987 Constitution),” Roque said.
Roque issued the statement in reaction to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) poll released Friday which revealed that majority of Filipinos think printing or broadcasting anything critical of the administration is dangerous.
The SWS survey conducted from Nov. 21 to 25, 2020 found that 65 percent of Filipinos believe it is “dangerous” to print or broadcast anything that is against the Duterte government, even if “it is the truth”.
Only 16 percent of 1,500 adult Filipinos say otherwise, while 18 percent are ambivalent on the matter.
The poll results yielded a net agreement score of “strong” +49, up by 28 points from the “moderate” +21 recorded in July 2020.
The same survey also disclosed that 65 percent of Filipinos are confident that they can say anything they want “openly and without fear,” even if it is not favorable to the government.
Only 19 percent disagree and 16 percent are undecided, giving a “strong” +46 net agreement rating. The net agreement score is slightly higher than the “strong” +41 reported in July last year.
Roque reiterated that free speech and press freedom remain protected under the watch of Duterte.
“Si Presidente naman po, bilang isang abugado, ay sumumpa na ipapatupad ang ating Saligang Batas, kasama na po ang ating tinatawag na bill of rights (The President, being a lawyer, has promised to implement the Constitution, including the so-called bill of rights),” he said.
Roque also guaranteed that Philippine media workers continue to enjoy their freedom in writing news reports about the policies and programs of the Duterte government.
SWS conducted face-to-face interviews using sampling error margins of ±2.5 percentage points for national percentages, ±4 percentage points for Balance Luzon, and ±6 for Metro Manila, the Visayas, and Mindanao. (PNA)