Impunity in Journalist Slayings Poses a Danger to Democracy in Philippines | Freedom House

Impunity in Journalist Slayings Poses a Danger to Democracy in Philippines

Washington

The recent slaying of two journalists in the Philippines is another example of the dangerous environment and culture of impunity that has made the country one of the most perilous in the world for media, with broader implications for the overall state of democracy, according to Freedom House.
 
Radio host, Desidario Camangyan was shot on Monday, June 14, while hosting a local singing contest. Less than 24 hours later, another radio host, Joselito Agustin, was shot while leaving work on his motorcycle. The shootings occurred in different regions of the country and were unrelated, but both men were known to be outspoken critics of corrupt local politicians.
 
“When violence against journalists exists to the degree that it does in the Philippines, and this violence goes unpunished, it has an inevitably negative impact on the strength of democratic institutions and the ability of citizens to enjoy their fundamental human rights,” said Paula Schriefer, director of advocacy at Freedom House. “We strongly urge the Filipino government to conduct a thorough investigation of these killings and take the steps necessary to ensure that journalists can report freely, without fear of retribution.” 
 
According to Freedom of the Press 2010, Freedom House’s annual survey of press freedom, the Philippines has experienced a continuous decline in press freedom since 2004, when it dropped from a Free to a Partly Free ranking.  The Philippines experienced another notable backslide in 2009, due to the slaughter of 27 journalists in the Maguindinao Province in November. Additionally, the country was singled out for having one of the highest levels of impunity, with violence against journalists often going unprosecuted. 
 
Broader political rights and civil liberties in the Philippines have suffered at the same time.  According to Freedom in the World, the Philippines dropped from a Free ranking to a steadily declining Partly Free ranking beginning in 2005, reflecting levels of political violence, cheating and vote rigging in elections, and corruption in both government and business.
 
“The increased violence over the last few years is certain to have a chilling effect on what has historically been one of the freest and most vibrant media environments in Southeast Asia,” said Karin Karlekar, managing editor of Freedom of the Press.
 
To view a draft copy of the country report for the Philippines in Freedom of the Press 2010, click here.
 
The Philippines is ranked Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2010, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2010.
 
To learn more about the Philippines, visit:
 

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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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