follow us:
site: HOME > > Economic > China Buzz > Zeigeist
Journalism's Darkest Day

By Darwin Wally T. Wee, a freelance journalist from the Philippines on exchange with the Economic Observer

It's two years now since the massacre of the 32 journalists in the southern Philippines, the incident mark as the single deadliest event for journalists in history. 

But until now no one has been prosecuted, and killings and threats against the country's journalists are becoming more and more common, making it one of the worst places for journalists in the world.

The cold-blooded murders on November 23, 2009 were ordered by a political warlord in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao - the 32 journalists were in convoy to cover the registration of a candidate opposed to a local political clan.  

The journalists were among 58 women and men flagged down by armed men believed to be the Ampatuan warlord's private soldiers. All of them were killed. 

“Two years after the gruesome crime, 103 of the 196 suspects remain at large and only two of the principal suspects have been arraigned. The case remains snagged on hearings on petitions for bail of the accused,” the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said.

The case has been delayed on legal technicalities, which some say are in fact a sign of the Philippines' thriving culture of impunity.

Despite having a new government administration, media killings keep on rising.

Since Benigno Aquino III became president in 2010, at least five Filipino journalists have been killed.

Aquino himself has the injustice of his country's culture of impunity; there has been no proescution of the masterminds responsible for the 1983 assassination of his father,  a journalist and politician.

Rowena C. Paraan, secretary-general of the union of journalists, said 146 journalists have been killed in the Philippines since the restoration of the democracy in 1986.

Out of these killings, there have been only 10 succesful court convictions, and even then only the hired guns have been jailed. The masterminds have escaped scot-free.

At present, there at least 15 cases related to media killings going through the courts, including the infamous massacre in Maguindanao province.

She said the lack of competence and resources of investigating agencies and the weaknesses in the institutions that are supposed to protect the people, such as the police, courts, and congress, have created the culture of impunity.

Today, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is observing the first International Day against Impunity.

In a statement, the IFJ said they chosen Nov. 23 to commemorate the martyrdom of people who gave their lives in the name of press freedom.

“The IFJ is committed to making this anniversary a day to remember all journalists killed because they believed in the purpose and mission of journalism, to raise awareness about the scandal of impunity and the failure of governments to bring the killers to justice and to pledge to do more to find ways of making journalism safer,” it said in a statement.

“This global event provides us with an opportunity to denounce the prevailing culture of impunity for crime committed against journalists in many countries of the world and call for its end,” it added. 


Comments(The views posted belong to the commentator, not representative of the EO)

username: Quick log-in

About China Buzz

The Economic Observer's editorial staff are always on the look out for interesting, fresh and high-quality China-related content. Whether it's the latest buzz on Weibo, links to insightful articles or updates on the latest books and reports, through China Buzz we'll keep you in the loop about what's going on in the world of Chinese politics and economics.

Most popular

this week
this month


E-mail subscription

Enter your e-mail address to subscribe to China Buzz and receive notifications of new posts through e-mail.