Philippines among worst places in Southeast Asia for journalists — IFJ

Ryan Macasero - Philstar.com
Philippines among worst places in Southeast Asia for journalists â IFJ
The International Federation of Journalists says the Philippines is the worst in impunity for journalists in Southeast Asia
The STAR / Kriz John Rosales

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is the worst in impunity in Southeast Asia, according to the Southeast Asia Media Freedom report, published by the International Federation of Journalists on Wednesday.

"There are no signs of any government willingness to stop the targeting of journalist and media organizations who believe this official apathy, or even open hostility,” the report said. “[It] has fueled a culture of impunity which has emboldened those seeking to silence the press."

On the media impunity scale, the IFJ ranked the Philippines a 7.7 out of 10, with 10 being the worst. They ranked the country's justice system a 7.5 out of 10.

Other countries ranked in the impunity scale include: Cambodia (6.1), Indonesia (7.4), Malaysia (6.3), Myanmar (7.5), Thailand (N/A) and Timor-Leste (4.1).

It named the following factors as key threats to journalists' safety: Cyber attacks, poor wages, censorship, and government attacks on the workplace.

Journalist killings

According to the report, 12 journalists have been killed in relation to their work since the beginning of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, with 11 of the killings happening in the president's first year in office.

Another media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders, found this year, however, that the Philippines is no longer in the top five deadliest countries for journalists.

RSF recorded three journalist deaths in the Philippines this year, compared to four in 2017.

However, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism recorded four journalists' deaths this year.

The Philippines dropping out of the deadliest countries for journalists was not because killings decreased in the country, but because killings of journalists increased in other countries.

According to the RSF's roundup published last week, the top five deadliest countries for journalists in 2018 are:

  • Afghanistan, with 15 murders
  • Syria, with 11 murders
  • Yemen, with eight murders
  • United States, with six murders
  • India, with six murders

The IFJ called the Philippines the “deadliest peacetime country for journalists,” with a total of 185 killed since the People Power Revolution in 1986.

Harassment, trolling

The IFJ recorded 85 cases on assault on the media from June 2016 to May 2018. These cases include murders, death threats, online harassment, police surveillance and the revocation of operating licenses.

They also highlighted Duterte's "troll army" as a threat and said it was "well-funded and professionally managed, and hurled insults at the media accusing detractors of corruption and misconduct, without basis in fact or in law."

The report said the Duterte administration sponsored a "misinformation army online and off."

It also noted the government's rescinding of Rappler's business license to operate in January, and several tax evasion cases filed against the company and its CEO Maria Ressa as an attack on independent media.

Despite the bleak outlook of the media environment in the report, they noted that "it is not the first time they [journalists] have had to face serious challenges to their profession and their duty to keep the public informed."

The report continued, "it was fiercely independent Filipino journalists who kept the flame burning when the dictator Ferdinand Marcos shut down the media in 1972.”

They said that today's journalists, “besieged though they may be, remain just as jealously protective of their rights and freedoms. They have also the added benefit of strong professional organizations and support systems as well as extensive international networks when push comes to shove."

Read the full report here







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