MANILA – The safety of all journalists and media practitioners remains a top priority of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) said Thursday.
The PTFoMS issued this statement after the Philippines retained its ranking as the 7th worst country in prosecuting killers of journalists based on the 2022 Global Impunity Index (GII) of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
The GII calculates the number of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country’s population.
“The administration of President Marcos condemns in the strongest terms all cases of threats, harassment, or violence committed against the members of the press, and it is working very hard with all government agencies and stakeholders to address this problem through the PTFoMS,” the task force said in a Facebook post.
According to the PTFoMS, the Philippines’ 7th rank was “expected” because the report covered a 10-year period between Sept. 1, 2012, and Aug. 31, 2022.
However, it also noted that most of the cases that transpired during the 10-year period have been fully investigated, with cases filed in court.
The PTFoMS cited how the suspect in the killing of radio broadcaster Renato Blanco, which was mentioned in CPJ’S report, has been arrested.
“Blanco was stabbed to death on Sept. 18 this year by accused Charles Yanoc Amada. He is currently undergoing trial for murder at the Regional Trial Court of Negros Oriental,” the task force said, adding that it has relayed the information to CPJ Senior Southeast Asia Representative Shawn Crispin.
In the case of Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa, the PTFoMS assured that the government is giving great importance to its investigation in terms of manpower and resources.
“We have to trust our law enforcement agencies that they will be doing their best in bringing to justice all of the perpetrators behind this heinous crime,” the task force said.
The PTFoMS said it is working with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and media groups to develop guidelines on how law-enforcement agencies will protect media workers.
It assured that the task force has set up plans to work with the judiciary to prioritize these cases.
The task force said it is also working with various media groups and civil society organizations for the “Philippine Plan Of Action On The Safety Of Journalists” (PPASJ), which aims to strengthen the enabling environment for the exercise of press freedom and to establish safety mechanisms for journalists and media workers that are locally anchored and sustainable.
The PPASJ is patterned after the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
The PTFoMS also said its Media Security Vanguards, which are composed of the PNP’s Public Information Officers (PIOs), remains open to receive and respond to all threats leveled against any media worker.
The PTFoMS vowed to remain proactive in defending media freedom in the Philippines by protecting the life, liberty, and security of media workers.
It likewise enjoined journalists, broadcasters, and media practitioners to report any incident of threat and harassment so that the matter can be swiftly investigated.
If necessary, the PTFoMS said any journalist or media worker may also be provided with “real-time police security.”
In its 2020 GII, the CPJ declared the Philippines as the “most improved” country in its ranking moving from 5th to 7th place.
The Philippines is also excluded from the CPJ’s list of “World’s Worst Places to Be a Journalist” or “10 Most Censored Countries” in the world.
Last month, Marcos reaffirmed the government’s commitment to support and protect media rights under his administration as well as listen to all their concerns during the President's Night with the Manila Overseas Press Club.
“Under my lead, we will support and protect the rights of the media as they efficiently perform their duty. Whatever difficulties we may encounter from this point on, the government will always be ready to lend an ear and to listen to your concerns and to answer all that you may want to know,” he said in his speech. (PNA)