Media security task force: Poor safety ranking expected | Inquirer News
better ranking seen with maguindanao massacre case verdict

Media security task force: Poor safety ranking expected

11:11 AM October 30, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) is not surprised that The Philippines remains among the most dangerous countries for media workers, owing largely to the infamous and still unresolved Maguindanao Massacre.

PTFoMS Executive Director Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco said the results of the Global Impunity Index (GII) for 2019 of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is “expected” and will likely be the same as long as the Maguindanao massacre, dubbed as the single deadliest attack on members of media, remains unresolved.

“The CPJ report is not surprising and was actually expected,” Egco said.


“In fact, we have been anticipating that because for as long as the massacre case remains in the equation, following the methodology used by CPJ, we shall remain on that list.”


Out of the 58 victims who were mostly beheaded and mutilated in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao on Nov. 23, 2009, 32 were journalists who were covering the filing of the certificate of candidacy for governor of the Ampatuan clan’s fierce rival, Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu.

The Department of Justice recently said the verdict on the case may soon be promulgated, a decade since the killings.

Egco explained that the CPJ report covered a ten-year period from August 2009 to August this year, hence the inclusion of the Maguindanao massacre.

The Palace task force head expressed confidence that once promulgated or if the next CPJ report period covered August 2010 up to August 2020, “the massacre case will be out of the equation.”

“Thus, we are looking at a much better and improved ranking for the Philippines. At this time, we are clarifying with CPJ some gray areas in their methodology, such as the inclusion in their list of cases that were deemed not related to media work,” he said.

According to CPJ: “The Philippines has been among the worst five countries nearly every year since the index was first published in 2008. The country’s fifth-worst ranking is due in part to the deadly ambush of 58 individuals, including 32 journalists and media workers, in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, on November 23, 2009.”


The CPJ list remained on its 2018 level with Somalia, Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and the Philippines still comprising the top five positions.

It explained that while “the trial of over 100 suspects behind the massacre is due to conclude this year… as of August 31, 2019—the final date CPJ counted convictions for this year’s index—no verdict had been announced.”

Egco also raised concerns on the methodology of the report, citing its alleged lack of consideration in the government’s efforts in holding perpetrators accountable.

“I have already established contact with CPJ Southeast Asia representative, Shawn Crispin, and raised our concern. There is something amiss in their methodology such as that if state action would not be considered, and that’s for all countries they cover, then they are not helping at all,” he said.

“Impunity, or even complete impunity, means there was no action taken at all in any particular state. And that is definitely not the case in the Philippines,” he added.

Egco vowed that the PTFoMS will “relentlessly act on all cases of violence, threats or murders of media workers.”

By January 2020, the task force will hold safety seminars for media workers nationwide be conducted by competent security experts and professionals, he noted.

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Likewise, the agency has strengthened its engagements with both local and international stakeholders to include projects with UNESCO and the International Media Support (IMS), among others. /gsg

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