EDITORIAL - No longer the worst, but….
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - January 4, 2014 - 12:00am

And now for some good news… the Philippines is no longer the world’s deadliest place for journalists, according to several media watchdogs. The improvement, however, owes less to a drop in the killing of journalists than to a spike in cases in the world’s conflict zones.

In 2013 the Philippines was edged from the worst rankings by Syria, where 29 journalists were killed last year, and by Iraq and Egypt. This is according to data gathered by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Paris-based press freedom watchdog Reporters Sans Frontieres, on the other hand, ranked the Philippines the fifth worst, behind Syria, Somalia, Pakistan and India. In the ranking prepared by the International News Safety Institute, the Philippines tied for second worst with India, behind Syria.

Last month alone, as the nation prepared to celebrate Christmas, three radio broadcasters were shot dead while a fourth was wounded in separate incidents around the country. The deaths brought to 12 the number of journalists killed in 2013, and to 26 the total since President Aquino assumed power.

The Philippines has long been a dangerous place for journalists, but the country cemented its notoriety following the massacre in Maguindanao wherein 34 of the 58 fatalities were media workers. While the accused masterminds are behind bars, the massacre case is crawling along in the courts, and key witnesses have been murdered. It is believed that about half of the direct participants in the mass killing remain at large.

In most of the other deadly attacks on journalists, neither the brains nor the gunmen have been caught. This failure has made the country rank high in the impunity index prepared by media watchdogs. At the start of the year, those tasked to go after these killers should firm up their resolve to end the impunity and do a better job.

BEHIND COUNTRY INTERNATIONAL NEWS SAFETY INSTITUTE IRAQ AND EGYPT JOURNALISTS MAGUINDANAO PAKISTAN AND INDIA PHILIPPINES PRESIDENT AQUINO PROTECT JOURNALISTS REPORTERS SANS FRONTIERES
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