SONA 2020 Promise Tracker: Media

Find out how Duterte fared in other sectors

In his State of the Nation Addresses (SONAs) since 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte has only made seven promises related to media: five on state-controlled media, one concerning access to information and one addressing media killings.

He has done well on most of his vows concerning government media, with two fulfilled and another two in progress.

As for freedom of information (FOI), apart from Duterte’s Executive Order No. 2 providing guidelines for public access to information under the executive branch, his administration also introduced the eFOI portal. Over 67,000 FOI requests to 520 agencies have been received by this portal as of publishing.

Requesting and accessing information, however, have not always been smooth-sailing (See: Palace denies VERA Files’ FOI request on Duterte’s health; official statement, medical records ‘not on file’). Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth have also become more difficult to access under new guidelines issued by the Ombudsman in October 2020.

As for mainstream and independent media, a presidential task force on media security was created by Duterte in 2016. But the chief executive enters the final 11 months of his term with over 233 reports of attacks, intimidation and killings of media workers since he began his term. More than half of these cases appear to be linked to state agents, according to a report of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.

In his penultimate SONA, Duterte mentioned the media only once where he described himself as a “casualty” of the Lopez family who, he said, used its media outlets against politicians in the 2016 elections. Since its franchise expired in May 2020, the free-to-air channels of Lopez-owned ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. remain shuttered, and its applications for renewal continue to languish in the House of Representatives.

Find out how the president has fared with the remainder of his media-related promises here:

PROMISE: Create People’s Broadcasting Corporation

“To better manage public information, a law should be passed. I’m addressing to Congress to create the People’s Broadcasting Corporation, replacing PTV-4, the government-run TV station, which now aims to replicate international government broadcasting networks.” (SONA 2016)

STALLED

Proposals to replace the state-owned network have not moved past the committee-level in both the Senate and House of Representatives since 2016.

In the 18th Congress, these proposed laws are Senate Bill 1235 and House Bills 8001 and 8012.

PROMISE: Set up broadcast hubs in the Visayas and Mindanao.

“The PBC will also set up broadcast hubs in the Visayas and Mindanao.” (SONA 2016)

IN PROGRESS

This promise is half-fulfilled.

The Mindanao Media Hub in Davao City was inaugurated by Communications Secretary Martin Andanar last March 18. The P700-million establishment now serves as the government’s main broadcast facility in Mindanao.

The construction of another hub in the Visayas has not started because no budget has been allocated for it, People’s Television Network Inc. (PTNI) Network General Manager Katherine De Castro said in a letter to VERA Files Fact Check.

PROMISE: Foreign media training for government media

PROMISE: “Teams from these international news agencies – I’d like to mention that, those interested, BBC – are set to visit the country soon to train people from the government-run channels to observe – ito ang gusto ko, tutal pera naman ng tao – to observe editorial independence through innovative programs and intelligent treatment and analysis of news reports, as well as developments of national and international significance.” (SONA 2016)

IN PROGRESS

Since the president made this promise in 2016, some staff members of government-run media have participated in various training programs of foreign public and state broadcasters, records show.

A list sent by PTNI to VERA Files Fact Check indicated that the government station has taken part in at least 28 international workshops, seminars and conferences from June 2016 to April 2021. These include a seminar on making documentaries and promoting ASEAN members conducted by China Media Group and China Central Television in 2018, and a television production course by Japanese public broadcaster NHK International, Inc. in 2019.

Government media workers have also received training from Russia’s Sputnik News Agency, the China Public Diplomacy Association, and China’s National Radio and Television Administration.


Sources

Official Gazette, Executive Order No. 2

Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, State agents linked to over 100 attacks, threats against PH media under Duterte admin, May 3, 2021

On the creation of the People’s Broadcast Corporation

  • House of Representatives website, HB 8001
  • House of Representatives website, HB 8012
  • Senate of the Philippines website, SB 1235

On setting up broadcast hubs in the Visayas and Mindanao

On foreign media training for government media


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

FOR FURTHER READING

SONA 2018 PROMISE TRACKER: Media

President Rodrigo Duterte has not mentioned his promises related to the media since his first State…

SONA 2016 PROMISE TRACKER: Media

2016 SONA promises on media

SONA 2019 PROMISE TRACKER: Media

More than halfway into his six-year term, President Rodrigo Duterte has neither made new promises…

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Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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