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Local media belie reports Phl dangerous for scribes

(The Freeman) - May 5, 2013 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Despite the latest report from the Committee to Protect Journalists that the Philippines is the third most dangerous place in the world for journalists to work in, the president of the Cebu Federation of Beat Journalists said that he doesn't believe the report.

"Diri sa Cebu, di gyud na mo-apply. Wa ma'y nahitabo'ng gipatay, kihaan ra man, labi na kung libelous ang ilang reports (It doesn't apply to Cebu. No journalist was killed here, only charged if they file libelous reports)," Elias Baquero said in a phone interview.

He added that although there have been Cebu-based journalists who have been killed in the past, the motives for their murders appear to have not been work-related.

Baquero also pointed out that the presence of media groups, such as the Cebu Citizen's Press Council and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, helps prevent cases of media killings in the province.

"Another thing [that helps prevent media killings in Cebu] is the self-regulation in media outlets. Duna ta'y gisunda'ng mga kaugalingong code of ethics," he said.

He also said that the CPJ's basis for their report was only a generalization, since more media killing incidents happened in Luzon and Mindanao.

Furthermore, Baquero said that although there have been efforts to protect journalists, the prospect of providing them with firearms is not a good idea.

“Ang mga members sa media nga duna'y armas, mao'y unang matiklo," he explained, adding that journalists bearing firearms is not a guarantee they will be secure.

Baquero said there are also laws protecting journalists, particularly in libel cases.

"Naa man ta'y depensa, kay malice ra man ang trace ana (We have a defense, since the only trace in libel is the presence of malice)," he said.

He added that in order for journalists to protect themselves from libel suits, their reports and commentaries must always be supported by evidence, especially public documents.

For his part, Pacheco Seares, executive director of CCPC, said that CPJ's report “doesn't have a clear criterion.”

Seares said that the count of journalists killed was not based on whether they were killed because of what they wrote or said on-air, or due to personal affairs.

He pointed out that impunity is one reason why the Philippines placed third in CPJ's list.

“Here in the Philippines, people, especially influential ones, can kill other people and do away with it,” Seares explained.

Seares said that if law enforcement in the country is done well, the numbers of murdered journalists “will drastically fall down.”

The Philippines ranks third in CPJ's latest annual impunity index, trailing next to Iraq and Somalia. -Raffy Cabristante, Silliman University intern/BRP (FREEMAN)

BAQUERO CEBU CEBU CITIZEN CEBU FEDERATION OF BEAT JOURNALISTS ELIAS BAQUERO IRAQ AND SOMALIA JOURNALISTS LUZON AND MINDANAO PACHECO SEARES PRESS COUNCIL AND THE KAPISANAN
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