Manila (AFP) – Philippine media giants are taking a public stand against the military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, as the country braces for a third consecutive year of anti-government protests.
The biggest Philippine daily, La Nacion, said on Sunday it will no longer cover any of the countrys most prominent political figures, as part of an effort to ensure the public doesn’t become distracted by news that was too sensational for them to keep on top of.
The newspaper said it would no longer publish the names of any politicians it deemed “incompetent” to lead a democracy-supporting movement or “saboteurs”, and would instead feature them only in a short, “relatively neutral” news story.
It would also stop its nightly “Opinionated” program that is usually a daily highlight of news, and it will also stop using the name of the vice president of the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte, for a time.
It said it was not the first major news outlet to make such changes, but was one of the first to do so since a massive anti-duterte protests began on February 10.
“We are not afraid of the military,” said the newspaper’s executive editor, Fernando Saldana, in a statement.
“This is not the Philippines government trying to suppress democracy or to silence dissent.”
It said the move was necessary as it was already hard for news outlets to get their hands on information that could help inform the public on the crackdown.
“It’s a very sensitive issue for our business,” Saldanas said.
“We don’t want to alienate our readers by excluding them from our news coverage.”
The newspaper’s editorial board said it had “reached consensus” with Saldans staff on the decision to stop using Duterte’s name.
“For this reason, we will stop publishing the names, as it is not in the best interests of the public to have to deal with news of our presidential advisor, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte,” the newspaper said.
“As long as he is in office, we won’t be covering him in our news.
We will continue to report on his policies and his agenda, but we will also continue to use his name for his political office.”
The Philippines’ third presidential election is due to take place on May 9.