MANILA, Philippines - The massacre of journalists in Maguindanao Monday is the worst death toll for the press in recent history, an international media watchdog said yesterday.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said the killing ?appears to be single deadliest event for the press since 1992, when CPJ began keeping detailed records on journalist deaths.?
?Even as we tally the dead in this horrific massacre, our initial research indicates that this is the deadliest single attack on the press ever documented by CPJ,? said executive director Joel Simon of the New York-based group.
It was the CPJ that had earlier branded the Philippines the second most dangerous place for journalists in the world behind Iraq.
According to the CPJ, the deadliest event that killed the most number of journalists prior to the Maguindanao massacre came in Iraq on October 12, 2006 where 11 employees of Al-Shaabiya television were killed in an attack at the station?s Baghdad studios. Five of the victims were journalists, and six were media support workers.
The CPJ also blasted President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for allowing a culture of impunity against journalists to reign in the country.
?While the scale (of the Maguindanao massacre) is unprecedented, the backdrop is all too familiar. President Arroyo must commit the full resources of her government to confronting once And for all the culture of impunity which perpetuates this kind of terrible violence,? the group said.
The CPJ also said it was working with local and international media support groups to extend assistance to the families of those slain on Monday.
The CPJ is an independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1981 to promote press freedom worldwide by defending the rights of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal.