Manila (AsiaNews) In the Philippines, press freedom is under siege, this according to Filipino journalists led by the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP). In a pooled statement issued to all media outlets, journalists lamented the violation of individual rights "in what is supposed to be one of Asia's most vibrant democracies."
Yesterday, eve of international Human Rights Day, they remembered that this year alone, 13 of their colleagues have died, killed, many of whom because they were investigating corrupt individuals or organizations, and this despite the fact that the Filipino Constitution lists press freedom as a basic right and politicians like to describe the Filipino press as among the freest in the region.
This is not the first time that Filipino media have criticized the authorities whose rhetoric on press freedom and the protection of journalists belies the fact that it has not taken any concrete steps to do what it says.
Two days ago, the police claimed to have arrested the killer of Allan Dizon, 30, a photo-reporter with the Freeman who was murdered on November 27 as he tried to flee behind a commercial center. However, no one has been convicted for a journalist's murder since 1986.
"And the killers of our colleagues are getting bolder," the statement said. "In at least three recent killings [. . .] the dastardly acts were followed by gloating calls and more death threats to the newsrooms."
The statement added: "As Filipino journalists unite today in outrage, we also stand defiant against those who wish to silence Filipino media."
Journalists called on the public to support them in their struggle for greater democracy and press freedom.
They also condemned the impunity that surrounds the killing of judges, lawyers and human rights activists and corruption in the country.
Since Arroyo took power in 2001, at least 705 "political" murders (victims include more than 30 journalists) have been committed. But the government says these are just murders and in many cases, they are not even investigated. The state of affairs has invited international condemnation from human rights activists and media professionals.
The Philippines have the highest murder rate among journalists in the world after Iraq.