13 February 2015 / By Jigger J. Jerusalem
THE continuing impunity and the unabated media killings in the country are still the main reasons the Philippines has ranked low in a worldwide survey on press freedom, a media group leader said Friday.
Although its ranking among the 180 countries has moved a few notches higher, the country is still among the lowest in the World Press Freedom Index in 2014, a survey undertaken by the Reporters San Frontieres (Reporters Without Borders) showed.
According to a news report, the RSF put the Philippines at the 141st place for this year. In 2014, it was at 149th, and 147th in 2013. In 2011-2012, it was ranked at 140th.
Among the criteria the RSF had used as basis include “media pluralism and independence, respect for the safety and freedom of journalists, and the legislative, institutional and infrastructural environment for the media to operate.”
Also, in 2010, the country was placed at 147th due to the infamous Maguindanao massacre where 58 people were killed, 32 of them members of the press.
The incident, now described as “the single deadliest attack on journalists in history” by the Committee to Protect Journalists, took place in Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman, Ampatuan town, Maguindanao, when they accompanied the wife of then Buluan, Maguindanao vice mayor Esmael Mangudadatu in filing his certificate of candidacy in 2009.
To this day, not one from among the scores of suspects has yet to be convicted, even though the principal respondents are currently being detained.
Cagayan de Oro Press Club Inc. president Jerry Orcullo said the country’s press freedom standing has to do with impunity where the killers and masterminds could hardly be arrested much less prosecuted for attacking members of the fourth estate.
“Because these perpetrators can easily get away with the crimes they had committed, this has encouraged the rich and the powerful, especially those who are being criticized by the media, to issue a kill order against any journalist who they perceived as antagonistic on them but who are actually just doing their jobs in reporting the truth,” Orcullo said.
In spite of these cases of extrajudicial killings, threats and other forms of harassments that have made it harder for the journalists to deliver the news, he said “this should not let the media be cowed or intimated but instead to remain firm in their resolve in urging the government to go after the suspects and those who are behind them.”
Meanwhile, Orcullo has urged the members of COPC to exercise their right to vote for a new set of club officers as it holds its annual election today, Saturday.