Philippines 'deadliest country' in Asia for journalists in 2017 – media watchdog

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is the deadliest country for journalists in Asia with 4 Filipino journalists killed for their work in 2017, according to a media watchdog’s yearend report. 

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), in its yearly worldwide round-up of journalists killed, detained, held hostage, or missing released on Tuesday, December 19, said that President Rodrigo Duterte’s “cryptic but alarming comment” against journalists in May 2016 proved to be more than just talk in 2017.

“The Philippines thus resumed a grim trend going back more than decade – one that was interrupted only in 2016, an exceptional year in which no journalist was killed,” it said. 

The Philippines was also included in the top 5 dangerous countries for journalists – together with Mexico, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The report labelled Syria as "the world's deadliest."

In its World Press Freedom Index earlier released in April 2017, RSF also identified the Philippines as one of the most dangerous countries for media, currently ranking 127th out of 180 countries. (READ: Despite improvement, PH still one of the most dangerous countries for media)

The media watchdog attributed the situation to “insults and open threats against the media by Duterte,” adding that private militias and blocktiming also blur the frontiers of journalism” in the Philippines.

65 killed worldwide

The report also identified 65 journalists killed worldwide in connection with their work. The figure – comprised of 50 professional journalists, 7 citizen journalists, and 8 media worker – is 18% lower than 2016’s 79 victims.

According to RSF, 26 were killed “in the course of their work, the collateral victims of a deadly situation such as an air strike, an artillery bombardment, or a suicide bombing” while the rest were “murdered, and deliberately targeted because their reporting threatened political, economic, or criminal interests.” 

The watchdog also noted that 2017 was the “least deadly” year for professional journalists in 14 years.

Gathered annually since 1995, the round-up of abuses and acts of violence against journalists “distinguish as much as possible between journalists who were deliberately targeted and those who were killed while reporting in the field.”

“We do not include journalists in the round-up when we have been unable to affirm with a great deal of confidence that they were killed in connection with their work, or when the case is still being investigated,” RSF said. – Rappler.com

Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.

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