“The World is Watching”: IFJ Releases Report into 66 Media Deaths in the Philippines

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has released its report into the alarming number of journalists killed in the Philippines, concluding that a culture of violence, encouraged by government inaction, is the main reason for the murders of over 66 journalists there since 1986.

With three journalists killed already this year, 2005 is shaping up to be worse than 2004, the IFJ said today at the release of their report A Dangerous Profession: Press freedom under fire in the Philippines.

"This report puts the Government of Philippines on notice: the world is watching," said IFJ President Christopher Warren upon the release of the report.

"The Government of President Arroyo must halt the bloodshed of our colleagues and the citizens of the Philippines," said the IFJ President.

The IFJ report arose from an international fact finding mission to the Philippines led by senior Australian journalist Gerard Noonan and including Rustam F. Mandayun, from Tempo in Indonesia; Inday Espina-Varona, chairperson, NUJP; Carlos Conde, secretary general, NUJP; Rowena Carranza-Paraan, a director, NUJP; Diosa Labiste, a director, NUJP and May Rodriguez, treasurer, NUJP.

The mission was prompted by the Philippines gaining the dubious honour of featuring second only to Iraq as the most deadly place for journalists to work, with it taking out the second spot on the IFJ's 2004 journalists and media workers killed list.

Key findings of the report are:

  • 66 journalists have been killed since 1986 as a result as their work as journalists.

  • Only one of the 66 cases has been successfully prosecuted since 1986.

  • Tolerance of a culture of violence involving senior Government officials is responsible for the high death toll.

  • Journalists meagre wages put journalists at risk through the use of the 'block time' system in radio.

  • The impracticality and dangerous nature of the witness protection program resulting in the murder of one witness has contributed to the lack of cases being brought to trial.

  • The gun culture - turning journalists into combatants - is contributing to the escalating violence directed towards journalists.

    In the report , the IFJ made the following recommendations:

  • Establishment of a safety office to develop and deliver training programs on ethics, human rights, self protection and how to cover hostile regions to journalists in the Philippines.

  • Expand Task Force Newsmen, a body set up by President Arroyo, to include non-governmental organisations and to effectively investigate the 66 cases of journalists killed since 1986.

  • The international community to lobby the Philippines Government and judiciary to successfully prosecute the 66 cases.

  • The Philippines employer organisations adopt a code of conduct.

  • A review the practice of 'block time' radio payments, where journalists buy time on local radio.

  • The Philippines Government to promote an appropriate public grievance procedure to deal with complaints against the media.

  • Translation of the IFJ's safety handbook Live News: A Survival Guide for Journalists into Tagalog.

    "By speaking to the families and employers of the slain journalists in the Philippines, as well as to regional officials we have gained an understanding of the factors that contributed to these tragic deaths", said Gerard Noonan, head of IFJ delegation to the Philippines.

    "We believe that the information in the report being launched today will highlight the extreme challenges Filipino journalists are currently facing. We hope this will strengthen the resolve of the world's media to support the fight against these unacceptable levels of repression," said Noonan.

    A copy of the report can also be found at IFJ Asia

    For further information contact the report's author, Gerard Noonan on +61 407 625 004 IFJ President Christopher Warren on +61 411 757 668. NUJP Chair Inday Espina Varona +63 916 751 2522

    The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries