Press freedom

The Philippines ties for sixth worst in the world for number of journalists killed

There were 81 reporters killed in the last year, which is a decrease from the 93 killed in 2016

Johanna Chisholm
January 3, 2018
The Philippines ties for sixth worst in the world for number of journalists killed
A Filipino photographer shows a placard during a protest against House Bill 4807 or the 'Protection Against Personal Intrusion Act', in front of the Philippines Congress on 9 September 2014 Photo: Ritchie B Tongo/EPA

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) reported in their annual report that the Asia Pacific region had the most reporters killed in 2017, with a total of 26 journalists.

For specific countries, the Philippines came in sixth overall with four media workers reported to have been murdered in the past year.

The IFJ’s annual Kill Report, which is released at the end of each year, found at least 81 reporters to have been killed in 2017 from targeted killings, crossfire incidents or car bombings. This was a decrease from the previous year, which saw 93 journalists killed while doing their job.

Though the number of reporters killed in 2017 is the lowest that the IFJ has reported in the last decade, the mounting threats of violence against media staff remains “unacceptably high,” IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said in a statement.

“We find it most disturbing that this decrease cannot be linked to any measure by governments to tackle the impunity for these crimes targeting journalists,” Bellanger said.

One of the more troubling findings from the report, the IFJ noted, was the “unprecedented numbers of journalists” who were jailed, forced to flee or were actively self-censoring their reporting.

“More journalists are in jail than at any time in recent years,” the IFJ general secretary added.

Within the IFJ’s discoveries, they found that more than 250 journalists were imprisoned in 2017.

For Southeast Asia, the country with the worst rate of imprisoning journalists was Vietnam, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported. The one-party Communist state currently has ten journalists behind bars.

With respect to media persons being murdered, the Philippines was reported by the IFJ to be the worst offender within Southeast Asia, tying for sixth worst in the world with Pakistan.

Of the journalists killed in the Philippines in 2017, there were two columnists, Joaquin Briones and Leo Diaz, a radio anchor, Rudy Alicaway, and a broadcast journalist, Christopher Iban Lozada.

Brinoes, 53, was described by the IFJ as a “hard hitting journalist” and was known in his native country by his listeners as ‘Dos por Dos’ after hosting a popular radio show.

He was killed after being shot four times in the back by assailants in March 2017, Philippine police reported.

Alicaway, 47, and Diaz, 60, were both shot and killed on 6 and 7 August respectively. The 47-year-old broadcaster worked for a popular community affairs radio show, the AFP reported, while Diaz was a former policeman who reported on political corruption and drugs.

Lozada, 29, was the most recent murder, after being killed from a fatal gunshot wound when he and his live-in partner were ambushed last October.

In another study released from the IFJ, the Philippines was found to have killed 146 journalists between 1990 and 2015, which made it the second most dangerous country to report in after Iraq.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who took office last year, has run a critical campaign of local journalists who cover his anti-drug war that has claimed the lives of thousands of Filipinos.

Before taking office, the AFP reported how Duterte was quoted as saying during a press conference that: “Just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination, if you’re a son of a bitch.”

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