THE Philippines remains one of the most dangerous places for journalists in the world as it ranked 141st out of 180 countries in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index of the international media group Reporters Without Borders.
RWB said seven journalists were killed in the Philippines this year and three of them were confirmed to have been due to their work.
In August alone, RWB noted that three journalists were killed over two weeks starting on Aug. 18 when 65-year-old Gregorio “Loloy” Ybañez, president of the Davao del Norte Press and Radio-TV Club and editor of the Kabuhayan News Services, was shot multiple times as he was going home.
On Aug. 19, another radio broadcaster Teodoro “Tio Todoy” Escanilla was shot multiple times in front of his home.
Escanilla was also the spokesperson of Karapatan, an NGO defending human rights in Sorsogon province, as well as the local representative for the Anakpawis party, a populist political party supporting farmers’ rights.
On the evening of Aug. 27, radio broadcaster Cosme Diez Maestrado, known for his hard-hitting comments and scathing criticism of corrupt local officials, was shot dead near a shopping center in Ozamiz, Misamis Occidental.
While the local police have reportedly identified four suspects through footage they recovered from a CCTV camera near the scene of the murder, they have yet to be taken into custody.
A total of 110 journalists worldwide were killed in connection with their work or for unclear reasons in 2015, with 67 journalists of them were targeted because of their work or were killed while reporting.
At the top of the list of deadliest nations are Syria, Iraq, and France.
This disturbing situation affecting media workers are largely attributable to deliberate violence against journalists and is indicative of the failure of the initiatives so far taken by the state to protect media personnel, said RWB borders secretary general Christophe Deloire.
“The creation of a specific mechanism for enforcing international law on the protection of journalists is absolutely essential,” Deloire said.
“Non-state groups perpetrate targeted atrocities while too many governments do not comply with their obligations under international law. The 110 journalists killed this year need a response that matches the emergency. A special representative of the United Nations secretary-general for the safety of journalists must be appointed without delay,” Deloire added.
The 2015 death toll is more than the 2014 figure and slightly below the average of the figures in the past 10 years.