Philippines still ranks 3rd in press freedom watchdog’s Impunity Index

CMFR/Philippines – The Philippines retained its third place ranking behind Iraq and Somalia in the 2014 Impunity Index released on 16 April 2014.

Published by the New York-based organization Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the Index noted that there are 51 unsolved murders of journalists in the Philippines from 2004 to 2013, giving the country an impunity index rating of 0.527 unsolved journalist murders per million inhabitants.

The Index ranks each country on the basis of the number of convictions of the killers of journalists relative to population. “Impunity” refers to the exemption from punishment of the killers of journalists.

The Index was released only a week after another journalist was killed in the Philippines, which has “held the third worst spot on the Index since 2010,” said CPJ. That was after the 23 November 2009 Ampatuan Massacre, in which 58 people, including 32 journalists and media workers, were killed in a single election-related incident in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao province.

The Index said that despite the May 2013 conviction of a gunman in the January 2001 killing of journalist Gerardo “Doc Gerry” Ortega, which it described as a “welcome development,” the continuing killing of journalists has pinned the country to its current ranking.

CMFR has listed 14 journalists and media workers killed in 2013, 10 of whom were killed for their work.

On 6 April 2014, tabloid reporter Robelita “Ruby” Garcia was shot inside her home, in front of her family. In her dying moments, she mentioned a police officer whom she said she had criticized. The Aquino administration says it is taking the killings seriously.
CPJ lists the Philippines as the second deadliest country for journalists, with 76 journalists killed since 1992.

In February 2014, the Philippines dropped from 147th to 149th in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index released by the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres, RSF), with the country described as being in a “difficult situation.”

Another organization monitoring global press freedom, Freedom House, gave the Philippines a score of 43 in their 2013 Freedom of the Press Index, qualifying the press as only “Partly Free.”