THE PHILIPPINES has been once again been recognised as one of the world’s most deadly countries for journalists, who are targeted by corrupt political and business actors with impunity.
The Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ) Impunity Index for 2017, which calls itself “a ranking of countries where journalists are murdered and their killers go free”, lists the Philippines as the fifth nation worldwide after Somalia, Syria, Iraq and South Sudan.
Released annually for the past ten years, the report calculates the number of unsolved murders over the past decade as a percentage of each country’s population. The report found that across the world, 93 percent of journalists murdered are local rather than foreign reporters.
The CPJ noted that in the Philippines, local journalists covering politics, business, corruption and crime are most likely to be targeted for murder. Some 42 journalists have been killed with “complete impunity” in the past decade, said the report.
The country’s controversial President Rodrigo Duterte has regularly chided the media, noting shortly after his election in June 2016 that “just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination.”
“Freedom of expression cannot help you if you have done something wrong.”
CPJ noted that two people including a former police officer have accused Duterte of ordering the murder of radio announcer Jun Pala in 2003 when he was the mayor of Davao City, Mindanao.
While he has denied connection to the assassination, Duterte has said Pala was killed because he was a “rotten son of a bitch.”
Since last year’s Impunity Index, another journalist Joaquin Briones was murdered. The families of some 32 journalists and media workers killed during the 2009 Maguindanao massacre, meanwhile, have not been given justice.
It was the biggest massacre of journalists anywhere, at any time in history, the CPJ has claimed.
Moreover, the Impunity Index highlights a case from April 2014 when Filipina tabloid reporter Rubylita Garcia was shot multiple times in her home after investigating wrongdoing within the Cavite province police force.
Nobody has been prosecuted for her murder, despite the fact that senior police officer was named by the justice department as a major suspect.
Two other Asian nations – Pakistan and Bangladesh – were named in the top 10. This was primarily because of the threat of violent extremist groups operating “beyond the reach of authorities”, the report said.