THE Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) on Thursday announced that the Philippines was finally out of the top five worst countries for journalists and was declared the “biggest mover” in a recent report of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
In its Global Impunity Index (GII) released on Wednesday, the CPJ reported that the Philippines ranked seventh among countries with the worst records of prosecuting killers of journalists.
“The Philippines is the biggest mover in this year’s rankings, improving from the fifth worst country worldwide to the seventh worst,” the global media watchdog said.
“The Philippines has 11 unsolved murders in the current 10-year index period, compared with 41 for last year’s index,” it added.
The CPJ’s report for 2020 explained that the country’s remarkable jump from fifth to seventh place “reflects the fact that the November 2009 Ampatuan, Maguindanao, massacre of 58 people, including 30 journalists and two media workers, no longer falls into the 10-year time frame for calculating the index.”
“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,” it added.
On Dec. 19, 2019, the Quezon City Regional Trial Court that heard the massacre case for a full decade handed down the guilty verdict against the masterminds and their accomplices in the gruesome crime and sentenced them to long years in prison.
In a statement, PTFoMs Chairman and Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that this achievement “marks the beginning of bigger goals and greater success.”
“We shall remain steadfast in our commitment to protect and promote media security by all means legally possible, relentless in the face of adversity,” Guevarra stressed, adding that the latest GII ranking “is a clear manifestation of the country’s working justice system.”
PTFoMS co-chairman and Presidential Communications Secretary Martin M. Andanar, for his part, said that despite the task force’s recent accomplishments, which have drawn international attention, it would continue to safeguard press freedom in the Philippines.
Meanwhile, PTFoMS Executive Director and Presidential Communications Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco, vowed to work harder to finally remove the Philippines from the top 10 list.
Egco also said PTFoMS would have to clarify the 11 unsolved cases since most of these were now undergoing trial in various courts all over the country.
He vowed that the government would not let any killer of media worker go unpunished.
Aside from addressing the unsolved media killings, Egco pointed out that the task force has, so far, helped hundreds of journalists from its creation in 2016, including victims of online harassment.