PH out of top 5 deadliest countries for journalists after 10 years, but still 7th most dangerous

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 29 2020 07:26 PM

Press freedom advocates stage a solidarity event for the victims of the Maguindanao massacre on the eve of the release of the verdict on the single deadliest attack on media workers, December 18, 2019. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The Philippines improved its global ranking in prosecuting murderers of journalists in 2020, 10 years after being listed among the top 5 deadliest countries for journalists, this year’s Global Impunity Index showed. 

While its rank improved, it still placed as the 7th most dangerous country for journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in its report released Wednesday. 

The movement in the Philippines’ ranking was also due to the fact that the 2009 Maguindanao massacre “no longer falls into the 10-year time frame for calculating the index,” the report read.

The methodology of CPJ’s Impunity Index involves the calculation of the number of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country’s population from the period of September 1, 2010 until August 31, 2020. 

“Only those nations with five or more unsolved cases are included,” it added. 

The watchdog pointed out that it adjusted the Maguindanao massacre to “partial impunity” from “full impunity” following the landmark ruling against members of the Ampatuan clan who masterminded the brutal murder of 57 victims, 32 of whom were journalists. 

“Landmark convictions late last year led CPJ to adjust the status of the Ampatuan cases to “partial impunity” from “full impunity” previously – meaning that they would no longer have figured into the index calculation regardless of the time frame,” the report read. 

After 10 years, the Philippines is no longer among the top 5 worst countries on justice for slain journalists, ranking 7th in this year’s Global Impunity Index. Screenshot from the Committee to Protect Journalists website

In December last year, a trial court found members of the Ampatuan clan and several others guilty of multiple murder in the Maguindanao massacre case, considered the worst political violence in the Philippines and the single deadliest attack on journalists. 

Brothers Zaldy and Andal "Unsay" Ampatuan Jr. were sentenced to reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years in prison without parole. Another Ampatuan brother, Sajid, who is mayor of Shariff Saydona Mustapha town, was acquitted.

The Philippines currently has 11 unsolved murders in the 10-year index period, compared with 41 in last year’s index, the US-based watchdog added. 

The last time the country was not among the top 5 deadliest countries was in 2009, the year of the Maguindanao massacre. It held the 6th spot at the time. 

Last year, the Philippines was on the 5th spot, still because of unsolved cases surrounding the Maguindanao massacre. 

The CPJ also said that while the number of murders this year involving members of the media has already exceeded 2019 figures, “it is not on track for a major increase.” 

Watch more in iWantTFC

“A couple of additional legal developments, meanwhile, do not bode well for ending the cycle of violence and injustice,” it said. 

CPJ ranked the following 12 worst countries when it comes to prosecuting killers of media workers in 2020:

  1. Somalia (26 unsolved killings)
  2. Syria    (22 unsolved killings)
  3. Iraq    (21 unsolved killings)
  4. South Sudan (5 unsolved killings)
  5. Afghanistan (13 unsolved killings)
  6. Mexico (26 unsolved killings) 
  7. Philippines (11 unsolved killings)
  8. Brazil (15 unsolved killings)
  9. Pakistan (15 unsolved killings)
  10. Bangladesh (7 unsolved killings)
  11. Russia (6 unsolved killings)
  12. India (17 unsolved killings)