THE United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has urged the Aquino administration to help ensure the safety of Filipino journalists and media workers.
The UNDP, in the run-up to World Press Freedom Day (May 3), on Tuesday joined its partners in the Philippines in calling for media safety, better access to and reporting on information and gender equality.
UNDP and the US Embassy Manila supported “Let Journalism Thrive: The Right to Life, The Right to Know, The Right to Free Expression,” a public forum organized by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) on April 29 at the Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros, Manila.
United States Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg was keynote speaker at the forum.
Moderated by PCIJ Executive Director Malou Mangahas, the forum aimed to raise awareness on the culture of impunity that has threatened Filipino journalists and their right to free speech and reportage for years.
The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility reported that about 147 journalists have been killed in the line of duty since 1986.
Terence Jones, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, in his opening remarks said, “The Philippine government has taken some steps to address these concerns, including the body on extra-judicial killings created to speed up investigations. However, progress has been slow, and only a handful of convictions have been made. There is much more to be done. We cannot rest until the number of extra-judicial killings is brought to zero, and that journalists and citizens alike can access and report on information without fear of violence or coercion.”
“Obstacles are still present in today’s media industry, ranging from imbalanced access to information and under-representation of women to insufficient media coverage of gender issues and outright violence against female journalists and women.”
Through the project “Empowering Citizens to Deepen Democracy,” the UNDP has supported PCIJ and the Commission on Human Rights to develop documentaries on political issues throughout the Philippines, build a governance database to allow citizens to track the record and performance of their leaders, as well as to train young journalists on responsible reporting techniques.