PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte’s task force on media security at the weekend said there is press freedom in the Mindanao region despite martial rule and after the killing of a broadcast journalist there in July.

“There are no complaints of media practitioners being harassed under the context of martial law,” Presidential Task Force on Media Security Executive Director Joel Sy Egco said by telephone.

His comments come after the murder of a hard-hitting broadcast journalist in Kidapawan City in July and the mistaken arrest by police in Cagayan de Oro City of a Davao-based columnist in June.

Mr. Egco said the reported killings of media practitioners in Mindanao, including the murder of a radio commentator in Kidapawan, have not involved both the military and police.

The task force presented to the public on Aug. 22 two main witnesses against at least 10 members of the Kapa-Community Ministry International Inc. who were allegedly behind the killing of Mr. Dizon. One of the two witnesses is a suspect, Mr. Egco said.

On June 9, the military and police mistakenly arrested a columnist for a Davao newspaper at the Laguindingan Airport in Cagayan de Oro City.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) has said the arrest was “a clear twisted logic of the Duterte administration that foolishly believes in the conspiracy theory of people linking with the communist party using the same pretext and plot weaved by past administrations.”

It added that journalists working in communities “may be a future target of the threat, harassment and killings as Mindanao remains under the power of martial law.”

NUJP earlier described the situation as “alarming and the atmosphere no longer secure for journalists working in Mindanao.”

“Press freedom in the entire country is still vibrant,” Mr. Egco said. “It’s alive and kicking despite what other sectors are claiming.”

The Philippines is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists, with 186 people who worked for media companies killed since 1986, according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and Human Rights Watch.

Mr. Duterte has denounced journalists for their coverage of his deadly drug war that Amnesty International has called a “murderous war on drugs.”

The president has also disparaged foreign journalists for their allegedly biased reporting and said corrupt reporters could be legitimate targets of assassinations. — Arjay L. Balinbin