BAGUIO CITY – The Philippines has been tagged among “the deadliest nations for the press.”
The New York based-Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in its year-end report considered the country, although said to be the “freest” in Southeast Asia, as among the worst in solving murders together with Russia.
Founded in 1981, the CPJ compiles and analyzes journalist deaths each year.
In its report, the CPJ cited the killing of two Filipino radio journalists, Dennis Cuesta and Martin Roxas, in the last quarter of the year. Both were reporting on local controversies when killed.
“Research over 17 years shows that the Philippines and Russia have been among the deadliest nations for the press.”
Thus, the CPJ is undertaking an international campaign to seek justice for murdered journalists, focusing on the Philippines and Russia.
Two years ago, the Philippines came second to Iraq, the CPJ said.
Worldwide, CPJ found that 41 journalists were killed in relation to their work in 2008, down from 65 last year. It is investigating another 22 deaths to determine whether they were work-related, the report said.
The CPJ tagged Iraq as still “the deadliest country for journalists worldwide” for the sixth consecutive year.
The 11 deaths recorded in Iraq in 2008, the CPJ report said, remained among the highest annual tolls in CPJ history.
The decline in the worldwide death toll was largely attributable to Iraq, where deaths dropped from a record 32 in both 2007 and 2006.
The decline in media deaths is consistent with an overall improvement in security conditions in Iraq, said the CPJ report.
Factors that contributed to improved security conditions in Iraq included the increase in US troop levels that began in 2007; the turning of Sunni tribal leaders against al-Qaeda and other foreign fighters in Anbar province and elsewhere in western Iraq; a ceasefire declared by independent Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr against US-led coalition forces; and the consolidation of sectarian control of neighborhoods.
CPJ also claimed “a declining Western media presence also contributed to the drop in deaths in the strife-torn country.”
All of the journalists killed in Iraq in 2008 were local reporters working for domestic news outlets.
Shift in ‘global hot spots’
The 2008 death toll, the CPJ said, “reflected a shift in global hot spots as high numbers of deaths were reported in restive areas of Asia and the Caucasus.”
Conflicts in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and India claimed the lives of 13 journalists, the CPJ said.
Abdul Samad Rohani, a correspondent for the BBC and the Pajhwok Afghan News service, was slain in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, in the dangerous area bordering Pakistan, after reporting on the local drug trade.
Three reporters were killed in civil strife in Thailand.
Another three died in just five days of fighting between Georgians, Russians, and local forces over the disputed region of South Ossetia.
Stan Storimans, a cameraman for the Dutch broadcaster RTL Nieuws, was killed during bombing in the central Georgian city of Gori.
This as murder remained the leading cause of work-related deaths: 28 of those killed in 2008 were targeted, the CPJ said, citing among others Cuesta and Roxas in the Philippines.
Russia recorded two work-related deaths this year.
CPJ further added that Bolivia and Cambodia also made the list of places with journalist fatalities this year.–Artemio Dumlao, Philippine Star