Philippines still has most unsolved journalist murders â watchdog
In this file photo taken November 2018, families and journalists gather in Ampatuan, Maguindanao to mark the ninth year since the massacre., file

Philippines still has most unsolved journalist murders — watchdog

Ratziel San Juan ( - October 30, 2019 - 2:37pm

MANILA, Philippines — For the third year in a row, the Philippines has the most “unsolved murders of journalists in countries with [the] worst record for justice” according to the Global Impunity Index 2019 by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

"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," the CPJ report, released Tuesday, read.

Scoring worse than Somalia, Syria and Iraq, the Philippines leads with 41 unsolved killings compared to 40 in 2018. It has been in the list’s top two countries with unsolved murders of journalists since 2008 and has remained the highest since 2017.

Mexico, with 30 unsolved killings, is at second place.

The Philippines ranks fifth on the Global Impunity Index 2019 overall. Somalia was at Number One.

The CPJ also noted that in the country’s 12 years on the index, it has been among the worst five “nearly every year since the index was first published in 2008.”

Ampatuan Massacre

“The country’s fifth-worst ranking is due in part to the deadly ambush of 58 individuals, including 32 journalists and media workers, in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, on November 23, 2009,” the CPJ report read.

“The trial of over 100 suspects behind the massacre is due to conclude this year, but as of August 31, 2019—the final date CPJ counted convictions for this year’s index—no verdict had been announced.”

The victims were covering Genalyn Mangudadatu's filing of the certificate of candidacy of her husband, then-Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu, at the provincial capitol in Shariff Aguak when they were stopped and murdered by more than 100 armed men.

Mangudadatu is now congressman of Maguindanao after serving three terms as governor.

Andal “Datu Unsay” Ampatuan Jr. is the primary accused among the 197 suspects charged over the massacre in the case pending before the sala of Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221.

Other Ampatuan clan members, including patriarch Andal Sr. who died in 2015, were charged with 58 counts of murder.

The case has been submitted for resolution and a verdict is expected by November.

Index methodology

The Global Impunity Index 2019 calculated the number of unsolved journalist killings between September 2009 and August 2019 as a percentage of each country's population. Only countries with five or more unsolved cases were included in the index.

CPJ defined murder as the “deliberate killing of a specific journalist in retaliation for the victim's work.” Unsolved cases are determined by a lack of convictions, “even if suspects have been identified and are in custody.”

The index excludes journalists killed in combat or while on dangerous assignments, as well as cases where “partial justice” has been achieved.

The Presidential Task Force on Media Security announced last week that a suspect has been identified in the shooting of Remate columnist Jupiter Gonzales, who was shot while driving in Pampanga and that a criminal complaint would be filed soon.

A suspect in the July 10 ambush on Kidapawan City radio commentator Eduardo Dizon surrendered earlier this month.

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