Philippines still among worst countries for journalists

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
Philippines still among worst countries for journalists
Relatives and supporters of victims of the country's worst political massacre light candles during a vigil at a park in Manila on December 18, 2019, on the eve of a court verdict in the case. The alleged masterminds of the Philippines' worst political massacre will learn their fate December 19 when a Manila court issues its verdict, in a test of the justice system for a nation with a deep-seated culture of impunity.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines remains among the 10 worst countries for journalists, according to the latest Global Impunity Index of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Like last year, the Philippines placed seventh in the index, which ranks countries based on the number of unsolved journalist murders in the past decade compared to population.

The index took into account work-related killings of journalists from Sept. 1, 2011 to Aug. 31, 2021.

From 11 unsolved murders in the Philippines last year, the number rose to 13 in the latest tally following the killings of Jobert Bercasio and Renante Cortes.

Bercasio, who hosted a morning news and commentary program for Balangibog Internet TV, was shot dead by motorcycle-riding men in Sorsogon City on Sept. 14, 2020.

Meanwhile, Cortes, a commentator for Cebu-based dyRB, was shot dead in front of the radio station after his program last July 22.

According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, at least 19 journalists have been killed during the Duterte administration.

But not all were included in the CPJ’s Global Impunity Index as it only includes unsolved murders that are confirmed to be work-related.

Last year, the Philippines improved its ranking from fifth to seventh after dozens of cases related to the Maguindanao massacre were removed as it was no longer within the 10-year timeframe for calculating the index.

The organization said the partial convictions in 2019 also adjusted the status of the Ampatuan cases from full to partial immunity.

According to CPJ, the situation remains the same in most countries and that no one has been held to account in 81 percent of journalist murders during the last 10 years.

Somalia remained on top with 25 unsolved murders (out of 15.9 million population), followed by Syria with 21 (out of 17.5 million), Iraq with 18 (out of 40.2 million), South Sudan with five (out of 11.2 million), Afghanistan with 17 (out of 38. million) and Mexico 27 (out of 128.9 million).

Following the Philippines is Brazil with 14 unsolved murders (out of 212.6 million population), Pakistan with 12 (out of 220.9 million), Bangladesh with six (out of 164.7 million), Russia with six (out of 144.4 million) and India with 20 (out of 1.38 billion).

“Globally in 2020, at least 22 journalists were singled out for murder in retaliation for their work, more than double the total for 2019,” said CPJ’s deputy editorial director Jennifer Dunham.

“For 2021, the number of murders is tracking closely to last year’s, but political volatility in Afghanistan and other high-risk nations makes the final 2021 total difficult to predict,” she added.

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