Posted by: JWP | 11/30/2009

Philippines: One dangerous place for reporters

The Philippines is a democratic country – why are so many journalists being murdered?

Terry Gould

From Saturday’s Globe and Mail

Published on Friday, Nov. 27, 2009 6:13PM EST

Last updated on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2009 3:45AM EST

As Canadian journalists were celebrating the freeing of their colleague Amanda Lindhout from captivity in Somalia this week, their relief and joy were tempered by the fact that on Monday, the worst mass killing of journalists in history took place – on the southern island of Mindanao in the Philippines. Scores of people were hauled off a political campaign bus by a hundred armed men and butchered with machetes and M-16s. It’s been reported that 29 of the 57 dead were journalists who were covering the campaign of a local vice-mayor who had announced he was running for governor in the province of Maguindanao. The vice-mayor had sent his wife, two daughters and other female supporters to file his election papers because he had received death threats and believed no one would harm a busload of women. So many journalists were onboard the bus because they thought it would make a great story.

The Philippines is ostensibly a democratic country, but it is one of the most deadly countries in the world for journalists – some years, more deadly than Somalia or Iraq. This latest massacre puts the number of Filipino journalists killed on the job since 1986 at 109, according to the Manila-based Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility. In a couple of rare cases, the actual killers of journalists have been tried and convicted. In no cases were those who ordered the killings jailed.

The facts surrounding this act of carnage shed some light on why so many Filipino journalists have been killed with impunity for so many decades.

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