MANILA (UPDATED) — The Philippines remained the seventh worst country where killers of journalists get away with murder, a report from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said.
This is the Philippines' 15th year in the index, where the country was ranked together with Somalia, Syria, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Mexico, Myanmar, Brazil, Pakistan, and India.
According to CPJ’s 2022 Global Impunity Index, the Philippines tallied 14 unsolved journalist murders in the last decade and retained its ranking from last year.
The CPJ noted the killing of radio broadcaster Percival "Percy Lapid" Mabasa, a critic of former president Rodrigo Duterte and some policies of his successor Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Following the slay of Renato Blanco who reported on local politics and corruption, Mabasa was the second journalist killed since Marcos took office on June 30.
"The election of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. brought hope of a shift away from outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign of intimidation and harassment of the press," CPJ said.
But it noted that the murders of Mabasa and Blanco "raised fears that the culture of violence and impunity will endure."
The Duterte administration has denied hounding media and said it believed in free speech.
The Marcos government meanwhile said it is "strongly committed to the protection and safety of members of the media in the country."
"Under my lead, we will support and protect the rights of the media as they efficiently perform their duty," Marcos said following Mabasa's murder last October.
"The vast majority of killers of journalists continue to get away with murder," according to CPJ’s 2022 Global Impunity Index. In nearly 80 percent of the 263 cases of journalists murdered in retaliation for their work globally over the past decade, "the perpetrators have faced no punishment," it said in its report published Tuesday.
Somalia remains at the top of the impunity index, the New York-based watchdog said, citing the country's "history of conflict, political instability, and weak rule of law underscoring the entrenched nature of impunity and making it unlikely that authorities will ever devote resources to seeking justice for the journalists."
The Philippines' neighbor Myanmar also made its first appearance in the index at eighth place. This, as Myanmar's military junta "jailed dozens of journalists and used sweeping anti-state and false news laws to suppress independent reporting."
Three journalists were also killed in Myanmar recently, including Aye Kyaw and Soe Naing, who photographed protests against the regime and later were arrested and killed in custody.
In a statement on Thursday, Department of Justice (DOJ) spokesperson Mico Clavano said the Marcos administration will continue its probe on journalist murders and harassment incidents.
"This Index will not stop the new administration from investigating and prosecuting work-related killing and harassment of journalists," he said.
"We understand the importance of good journalism and we will take concrete steps in protecting those that simply want to keep the government and its officials in check. It is a right we must respect and preserve," he added.
For its part, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said the CPJ's findings show that the lack of convictions on journalist murders "adds to making journalism a dangerous profession in the Philippines."
"The report is even more timely as the government investigation into the killing of broadcaster Percy Lapid continues amid twists and complications," it said in a social media post Thursday.
"While we welcome initiatives by government to engage with journalists and to look into their safety and security, NUJP holds that the resolution of cases of attacks against our colleagues as well as the assurance that threats against us will be taken seriously are among the best ways to ensure that we can report without fear of reprisal," the group also said.
"We hope that the CPJ findings are not dismissed as propaganda and will instead prompt the government to redouble efforts to solve the cases," it added.
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