Philippines says report on media killings unfair

Published by rudy Date posted on March 24, 2009

The Philippines on Tuesday blasted a New York-based media watchdog after it claimed the country was among the deadliest peace time nations for the working press.

While acknowledging that there have been over two dozen killings of journalists in the past decade, President Gloria Arroyo’s chief aide, Eduardo Ermita said the cases “have all been properly attended to.”

“We view with discomfort the manner the Philippines is once again put in a bad light on its commitment on the promotion and protection of human rights,” Ermita said in a statement.

He was reacting to a report released in Manila by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Monday that placed the Philippines sixth in a list of countries where members of the press are killed with impunity.

The report said there were over two dozen killings that have gone unsolved in the past decade, with witnesses being threatened or attacked.

The report placed Iraq, Sierra Leone and Somalia at the top of the list for the second year running, while Asian countries wracked by strife like Afghanistan, Nepal and Pakistan were also cited.

The CPJ said the Philippines was “first and foremost the country of concern” where the killings happened at a time of peace and where there is a working democracy.

The group also called on the government to assign special prosecutors, move trials to safe places and put in place measures to protect families and witnesses.

Ermita said the CPJ report was an “unfair depiction of what is happening” on the ground.

He said that based on government statistics, 31 press workers have been killed since 2001. Two of the 26 cases filed had been solved and four people had been convicted, he added.–AFP

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