Duterte wants media as watchdog and partner

Press Undersecretary Enrique Tandan delivers his message at the launching of MOM.

PRESIDENT Duterte welcomes media’s role as watchdog even as he considers it a partner in informing the people about what the government is doing for them, a Palace official said.

In a message he delivered in behalf of Press Secretary Martin Andanar at the launching of the Media Ownership Monitor (MOM) website (( ), Thursday last week, Press Undersecretary Enrique Tandan said, “President Duterte believes that, as partners for change, the members of the media have a huge responsibility in keeping the government institutions in check. Change happens when there is a constant voice that keeps the government up on its feet, making sure that no detail will go unknown from the public eye.”

But the President also wants media to be a partner in delivering the government’s messages to the people. ‘’For the President, this is how the media works as the government’s sidekick, so to speak,” Tandan said.

Christian Mihr, representing Reporters Without Borders, which initiated the MOM project noted that “the Philippines, a country with a president who decided to lead his countries closer to China media should play a crucial role as a facilitator of societal debates, watchdog of government and essential mediator of democratic processes.”

Mihr cautioned about “the subtle yet strong ties between business interests and political power” which could limit media’s independence.

Press Undersecretary Enrique Tandan and Christian Mihr, executive director of Reporters Without Borders.

The MOM website contains the findings of the three-month research conducted jointly by VERA Files and Reporters without Borders on the top media outlets in the country, their profiles as well as on the extent of media ownership concentration.

The study showed that the two giant broadcast companies – ABS-CBN Corporation and GMA Network Inc. — dominate the Philippine media industry and have a major influence in shaping public opinion.

The research revealed that some media companies practice corporate layering which not only masks the real owners but could also be related to taxation issues.

Stressing the importance of transparency in media ownership, Mihr asked, “How can people evaluate the reliability of information, if they don’t know who provides it? How can journalists work properly, if they don’t know who controls the company they work for? And how can media authorities address excessive media concentration, if they don’t know who is behind the media´s steering wheel?”

He said those are questions that MOM wants to address both worldwide and in the Philippines, specially.

The Philippines is the sixth country where RSF implemented MOM. Started last year in Colombia and Cambodia, this year RSF embarked on MOM in six more countries, Tunisia, Turkey, Mongolia, Peru, and Ukraine next to the Philippines. It is funded by the German Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation, BMZ.

Reporters Without Borders Germany has existed for 21 years and is part of the international, Paris-based organization Reporters sans frontières, whose aim is to defend human rights, in particular freedom of the press and the right to inform and be informed anywhere in the world.

VERA Files is nonprofit media organization composed of veteran journalists committed to advance excellence in journalism by engaging in research-intensive, high-impact reports in multiple formats and providing training, particularly mentoring of journalists.