Philippines still 5th worst country in unsolved media killings
Committee to Protect Journalists said the Philippines has landed in the list nearly every year since the index was first published over a decade ago, partly due to the deadly ambush of 58 individuals, including 32 journalists and media workers, in Ampatuan, Maguindanao on Nov. 23, 2009.
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Philippines still 5th worst country in unsolved media killings

Artemio Dumlao (The Philippine Star) - October 30, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — For a third year in a row, the Philippines has been listed fifth among countries with the worst record of prosecuting killers of journalists, a New York-based press freedom watchdog said in its 2019 World Impunity Index released yesterday.

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said the Philippines has landed in the list nearly every year since the index was first published over a decade ago, partly due to the deadly ambush of 58 individuals, including 32 journalists and media workers, in Ampatuan, Maguindanao on Nov. 23, 2009. 

The Philippines also ranked fifth in the 2017 and 2018 World Impunity Indices. The country has been on the index for the past 12 years, meaning it had five or more unsolved cases in the past decade.

CPJ also indicated that the Philippines’ rating even “worsened” from last year (from .381 to .384).

Though the CPJ recognizes that the massacre trial is due to conclude this year, as of Aug. 31, 2019 – the final date CPJ counted convictions for the 2019 index – “no verdict had been announced.”  

Ampatuan clan patriarch and former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., whom prosecutors said was the mastermind behind the attack, died in detention in July 2015.

Malacañang said earlier this month that a conviction will improve the country’s CPJ index ranking.   

Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco, executive director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), said a court decision is expected to come out before the 10th anniversary of the massacre, touted as the worst single violent incident against journalists worldwide. 

CPJ noted 41 unsolved media killings in the country this year, of which 32 were in the Maguindanao massacre.

Egco swore he would resign from his post if the primary suspects of the massacre – Datu Andal, Datu Zaldy and Datu Sajid Islam – are acquitted by the court. 

Even after the conviction of the primary suspects, Egco said, 80 other accused persons remain at large. Manhunt is in the pipeline after the decision on the case, the official claimed.

CPJ ranked strife-torn Somalia on top of the list, followed by Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, the Philippines, Afghanistan, Mexico, Pakistan, Brazil, Bangladesh, Russia, Nigeria and India.  

The 13 countries that make up the list of the world’s worst impunity offenders represent a mix of conflict-ridden regions and more stable countries where criminal groups, politicians, government officials and other powerful actors resort to violence to silence critical and investigative reporting.

Unchecked corruption, ineffective institutions and lack of political will to pursue robust investigations are all factors behind impunity, the CPJ said.

The CPJ’s Impunity Index calculates the number of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country’s population. For this year’s index, CPJ accordingly examined journalist murders that occurred between Sept. 1, 2009 and Aug. 31, 2019 and remain unsolved. 

The press freedom watchdog explained that only those nations with five or more unsolved cases are included on the index.   

CPJ defines murder as a deliberate killing of a specific journalist in retaliation for the victim’s work. This index does not include cases of journalists killed in combat or while on dangerous assignments, such as coverage of protests that turn violent. 

Cases are considered unsolved when no convictions have been obtained, even if suspects have been identified and are in custody.

MEDIA KILLINGS
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