THE Philippines has had 204 recorded cases of media killings from 1987 to October 2023, the latest data from the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) showed.
The PTFoMS, an inter-agency body tasked to protect members of the press and created during the time of former president Rodrigo Duterte, presented the data it gathered during a media summit in Cebu City on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023.
The task force, headed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and consisting of secretaries of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), national defense, the solicitor-general, the executive director of the Presidential Rights Committee, police, and the National Bureau of Investigation, also tackled cyber libel cases in the country and promised to pour more efforts to ensure a safer media environment.
On Tuesday, the PTFoMS, in partnership with the Public Attorney’s Office, held the Visayas Media Summit as part of a nationwide media summit promoting a free and responsible press towards a safer media community.
Data presented during the summit showed that there were 204 cases of media killings from 1987 to October 2023 including the recent killing of Juan Jumalon, a radio news anchor in Misamis Occidental who was shot dead while having a live broadcast on Nov. 5, 2023.
Of the 203 recorded cases (not including the recent Jumalon case), 102 have been resolved, 57 have ongoing investigations, 15 remain unresolved, and 29 are prescribed, wherein the discovery of the crime has been at least 20 years.
A total of 142 out of the 203 cases were tagged as work-related killings, while the rest were non-work-related.
Moreover, of the 203 cases, the majority, or 90 were recorded during the Macapagal-Arroyo administration. Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration spanned nine years from Jan. 20, 2001, to June 30, 2010. Arroyo served the remainder of former president Joseph Estrada’s term after he was impeached.
During the time of former presidents Duterte and Benigno Aquino III, 37 media killing cases were logged, respectively; four during the Estrada administration; 11 during the Fidel V. Ramos administration; 21 during the Corazon Aquino administration, and three during the time of the current President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Data from the DOJ also showed that from 2012 to 2022, there have been a total of 483 cyber libel cases in Central Visayas. Of these, only one got a conviction.
In an interview with SunStar Cebu, Hue Jyro Go, chief of staff at PTFoMS, said the summit aims to share and promote ethical and responsible journalism.
Go also discussed mechanisms against harassment and violence against media practitioners to ensure a safe and secure media environment, as he said the government will have proactive measures for these cases.
He said PTFoMS validates incident reports and connects to offices and stakeholders concerned. Through the help of the police and the DILG, the task force will also be in charge in addressing threats against journalists, especially during elections.
“At the end of the day, what we are trying to promote is a free and responsible press towards a safer media community,” said Go.
Despite the recent killings, Go said the current state of the media in the Philippines is free and that journalists can acquire information so long as it is not confidential.
“It’s very free because no one is trying to halt what a person wants to say. Anyone can engage in dialogue,” he said.