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PH stays in Impunity Index

ALTHOUGH there is no state of war in the Philippines, the country among the nations with the worst records in terms of impunity against journalists, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said in its Global Impunity Index for 2015.

But Malacañang said “the Aquino administration has reformed the political structure that spawned the Maguindanao massacre upon which was based the impunity rating now assigned to the Philippines.”

“However, the trial of about 100 suspects is still ongoing, thus the impunity rating of the country has not changed. Government continues to pursue suspects in other media-related crimes,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.

The Philippines moved down from its No. 3 rank from 2014 but remains the only country in the top five that is not in a state of large-scale armed conflict.

“For this index, CPJ examined journalist murders that occurred between Sept. 1, 2005, and Aug. 31, 2015, and that remain unsolved. Only those nations with five or more unsolved cases are included on this index,” the CPJ said in its website.

CPJ’s Top 14 countries in terms of impunity against journalists are the following: Somalia, Iraq, Syria, The Philippines, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, Brazil, Bangladesh, Nigeria and India.

“At least 44 murders have taken place since September 2005 with complete impunity; seven have occurred under the current administration of President Benigno Aquino III,” the CPJ said.

“Justice for the 32 media victims and 26 others slaughtered in the 2009 massacre in Maguindanao appears more elusive than ever. No one has yet been convicted of the crime and, after six years of protracted legal proceedings, the suspected mastermind has now died of natural causes,” it added.

The 2013 conviction of the gunman who assassinated investigative journalist Gerardo Ortega was a welcome advance, but the two former politicians accused of commissioning the crime have not yet stood trial.

The index calculates the number of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of the country’s population.

The CPJ gave the Philippines an Impunity Index Rating of 0.444 unsolved journalist murders per million inhabitants.

According to CPJ, the numbers show that the political will needed to prosecute the assailants is absent.

It added that many of the journalists who were ‘silenced’ had investigated corruption or reported critically on local leadership.

The United Nations Security Council had recently made efforts in addressing the problem. Last May, they filed Resolution 222, which calls for states to take “greater steps to protect journalists in situations of armed conflict and ensure accountability for crimes against them.”

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