The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) blasted government claims that more than half of all media killings in the Philippines have been resolved.
Reacting to government claims to visiting United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression and opinion Irene Khan, the NUJP said it is flabbergasted that the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFOMS) reported 102 out of 203 media-related killings have been successfully prosecuted.
The NUJP said that, based on its own monitoring, there have been 199 journalists were gunned down since 1986 and the number of cases successfully resolved does not come close to 50 percent.
The group cited a Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism report in December 2022 that revealed only 11 percent of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility’s count of 176 media killing resulted in convictions.
The same article showed that only 53 percent of the cases reached the courts, the group added.
“How the PTFOMS classified the case as ‘resolved’ is a mystery. Do they mean establishment of possible motives, identification of the suspects, or shrugging off the incidents as not work-related?” NUJP asked.
In a press release Friday, PTFOMS said it discussed with Khan its database on media killings, revealing that “half of the media-related killings (102 out of 203 cases) have been resolved, whether through legal prosecution or other means.”
“This contrasts starkly with the United Nations’ record of only about 10% resolution in journalist killings around the world, a point highlighted by Ms. Khan,” the task force boasted.
PTFOMS added that its discussion with Khan last Wednesday also highlighted the collaborative efforts of the Department of Justice and law enforcement agencies in addressing media killings.
Families of media killing victims however testified to Khan that successful prosecutions mostly mean the conviction of triggermen and accomplices but not of the masterminds.
Last Tuesday, family members of Dr. Gerry Ortega and Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa joined media organizations in their meeting with Khan and complained of the government’s failure to convict alleged masterminds of their murders.
Former Palawan governor Joel Reyes is being charged of masterminding Ortega’s assassination in 2011 while former Bureau of Corrections director general is accused of masterminding Mabasa’s murder.
“The brazenness of the killings, such as in the cases Percy Mabasa and Juan Jumalon, indicates that impunity is alive in this country. Emblematic of this problem is the case of Gerry Ortega who was gunned down in 2011. After 13 years, the alleged mastermind remains scot-free,” the NUJP said.
“Whether work-related or not, killings of journalists are not acceptable, and should not happen in a democratic society. The killings underscore the failure of the government to protect the right to life of its citizens,” the group added.
Khan is in the Philippines for a 10-day official visit to look into the state of press freedom and freedom of expression and opinion in the country.
She met with journalists and activists in Baguio City last Friday and had just concluded her meetings with counterparts in Tacloban City.
Khan also visited journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio, church worker Marielle Domequil and human rights defender Alexander Abinguna at the Tacloban District Jail earlier today. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)