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Philippines keeps 7th spot ranking in deadliest country for journalists in global index

The Philippines is still among the worst countries when it comes to unsolved killings of journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists' (CPJ) Global Impunity Index 2021.

Based on CPJ's report, the Philippines ranked seventh out of 12 countries, with at least 13 unsolved killings of journalists over the past 10 years.

Somalia topped the list with 24 unsolved murders, followed by Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Mexico, based on the report covering the period of September 1, 2011 until August 31, 2021.

The media watchdog reported that Somalia occupied the worst four spots on the list "as conflict, political instability, and weak judicial mechanisms perpetuate a cycle of violence against journalists."

Meanwhile, Brazil ranked eighth, followed by Pakistan, Russia, Bangladesh, and India.

'Notes with optimism'

In a statement in reaction to the report, the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) said it "notes with optimism" the CPJ's Global Impunity Index.

Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco, PTFoMS executive director, said "for the first time, the CPJ made no country specific report on the Philippines unlike in the past when critics feasted on mostly critical observations by CPJ."

"This can be attributed to our engagement with international bodies such as the CPJ, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and UNESCO, to name a few," he said.

"It is a sign that we are slowly getting out of the list."

Egco said the 7th rank was expected because the report covered a 10-year period.

"You have to understand the methodology used by CPJ to best appreciate the index. Remember that the 7th rank we gained last year was cited as the 'best mover' for country," he said.

Egco also said that the issue of the Global Impunity Index is an issue for the Supreme Court to act on.

"The executive department has done its part in immediately investigating each and every killing of media worker in the country and the filing of criminal complaints against the suspects," he said.

For his part, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the PTFoMS "has been doing its job diligently and has helped in the prosecution of many cases of media violence."

On the libel cases filed against some journalists, Guevarra said these legal actions were "mostly initiated by private persons who think that their reputation has been besmirched."

"As to online attacks against media, sorry I have no personal knowledge. What I know is that online attacks can happen to anyone, not to journalists alone," he said in a message to reporters. 

The CPJ’s global index calculated the number of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country’s population, according to the report.

It also stated that the index only tallies murders that have been carried out with complete impunity, while it does not include those where partial justice has been achieved.

"CPJ defines murder as a deliberate killing of a specific journalist in retaliation for the victim’s work. This index does not include cases of journalists killed in combat or while on dangerous assignments, such as coverage of protests that turn violent," CPJ said. —Richa Noriega/KBK/VBL, GMA News