MANILA - The new year started deadly for Philippine journalists, according to international non-government organization Human Rights Watch (HRW).
This, after Nerlita "Nerlie" Ledesma, a reporter for Abante, was murdered in Balanga, Bataan on Thursday while on her way to work.
Ledesma's killing occurred a day after the attack on the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo.
According to HRW, while the atrocity in Paris was "a shockingly unprecedented attack on media for France", killings of journalists in the Philippines have become "shockingly routine".
"Despite the country’s reputation as a regional bastion of free media un-hobbled by official censorship, journalism is a deadly line of work in the Philippines," HRW's Phelim Kine said.
One of the worst attacks on Philippine journalists occurred on November 23, 2009, when at least 30 media workers and 28 others were killed in Maguindanao.
HRW also lamented the fact that the government has failed to bring to justice perpetrators of these media killings.
"There have been arrests in only six of the journalist murder cases during Aquino’s time in office. In only two of those cases have the gunmen been convicted – but not the masterminds who ordered and paid for the murders," Kine added.
For HRW, this apathy sends a clear message to those threatened by free media that "journalists carries little risk of arrest and prosecution".
"Until Aquino summons the political will to ensure that killers of reporters go to prison for their crimes, 2015 will be another deadly year for Philippine journalists."