MANILA, Philippine – From 4th in 2016, the Philippines dropped to 5th in the 2017 Global Impunity Index of New York-based watchdog Committee to Project Journalists (CPJ).
In its report "Getting Away with Murder” released on Tuesday, October 31, CPJ described President Rodrigo Duterte’s creation of the presidential task force to probe media killings as “progress.”
Created in October 2016 and chaired by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, the task force is given the duty of "ensuring a safe environment for media workers.”
However, one year since its creation, the watchdog pointed to its failure to lead in the persecution of suspects who include, among others, government officials.
“The commission has announced investigations into several murders but no convictions have been achieved,” it said.
Published ahead of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on November 2, the report aims to highlight the depressing reality in countries were violence against journalists has not been adequately addressed or dealt with.
Duterte and Jun Pala
CPJ also pointed out the claims of self-confessed members of the Davao Death Squad (DDS) regarding the involvement of Duterte in the death of broadcaster Jun Pala.
He was gunned down in September 2003 by unknown men on a motorcycle in Davao City and his murder remains unsolved after 14 years. (READ: Duterte's 'enemy': Jun Pala)
Duterte, shortly after winning the 2016 presidential race, said that journalists are legitimate targets of assassination "if you're a son of a bitch.”
One of these people "who deserved it", he said then, was Pala.
The Philippines is among the 13 countries included in the 2017 Index.
Since 2007, at least 42 journalists have been killed with complete impunity in the country, according to the report. These journalists were mostly based outside Metro Manila “covering politics, corruption, business, and crime.”
CPJ also hit the delayed justice for the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre. Not one of the 197 accused in the case has been convicted over the killing of 58 people – including 32 journalists – in November 2009. (READ: What happened to the Maguindanao massacre case?)
Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.