Journalists in the Philippines, often targets for gunmen who are never prosecuted, ‘were not reassured by the new president Rodrigo Duterte’s comments at a press conference in response to a question about how his government would handle cases of media murders: “Just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination if you’re a son of a bitch.”
Duterte, formerly the long-serving mayor of the southern city of Davao, also claimed that many killed journalists were either corrupt or had “done something” that warranted their murders. He also warned that journalists who defamed others in their news reporting would not necessarily be protected under the law from violent reprisals.
At least 44 murders have taken place since September 2005 with complete impunity; seven have occurred under the previous administration of President Benigno Aquino III. Justice for the 32 media victims and 26 others slaughtered in the 2009 massacre in Maguindanao appears more elusive than ever.
The Philippines ranks fourth on the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are murdered and the killers go free.