|CMFR releases 2008 press freedom report|
|Written by Administrator|
|Monday, 23 March 2009 19:00|
As this report on the state of press freedom in the Philippines in 2008 was being prepared, the number of journalists killed in the line of duty for the year had risen to six. This is four more than the toll in 2007, and makes 2008 one of the worst years on record since 2001.
But it wasn’t only the killing of journalists that has made 2008 a bad year for press freedom in the Philippines.
A journalist was still in prison as the year was ending, despite his having served part of his sentence and having been pardoned, and after a second case for libel fi led in connection with the same incident that led to his imprisonment had been dropped.
A decision by the Makati Regional Trial Court upheld the legality of the arrests of several dozen journalists on Nov. 29, 2007, in eff ect endowing the police with the power to decide which events journalists may cover.
A right of reply bill, which among other consequences could bankrupt small publications, and in eff ect deny editors the prerogative to choose what to air or publish, has been approved by the Senate and is pending in the House of Representatives, whose version of it imposes prison terms for noncompliance.
Across the entire range of universally accepted press freedom indicators — imprisonment, murders, attacks and harassments, among others — the Philippine press in fact qualifies as only partly free in that except for the constitutional protection aff orded by Section 4 of Article III of the Bill of Rights, it is and has been constantly under a variety of threats.
As the year 2008 ended, another radio broadcaster in Northern Samar was killed by unknown assailants. The killing of Leo Mila of dxSY brought to six the number of journalists/media practitioners killed in the line of duty in 2008. Aside from killings and physical attacks, the Philippine press also faced legal suits and other harassment from government officials and powerful personalities.
The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) reviewed the state of press freedom in the Philippines, focusing on the killing of journalists and other attacks on the press from January to December 2008. CMFR’s 2008 Press Freedom Report, the third since 2006, also looked at the legal environment for press freedom; problems in prosecuting suspects in the killing of journalists; and the state of media ownership in the country.
The Report looks into these threats as part of the effort not only to record the details of a deteriorating press freedom situation that needs exposure, but also as part of CMFR’s contribution to the campaign to improve respect for and observance of press freedom in the Philippine setting.
The Philippine Press Freedom Report 2008 is available online at the CMFR website. Copies are also available at the CMFR office, second floor, Ateneo Professional Schools, 130 HV de la Costa, Salcedo Village, Makati City. Bulk orders from schools and libraries are provided at a discount. Those interested may call CMFR at 840 0889. CMFR