Wednesday, May 11, 2011


A three-day convention marking World Press Freedom Day paid tribute to journalists who were killed “giving voice to those who may not express themselves freely” even as one media watchdog kept the Philippines in the list of deadliest countries for journalists.

World Press Freedom Day was celebrated with a conference last May 1-3 in Washington DC organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the State Department and civil society organizations.

The Philippine press experienced one of the world’s worst violence when 32 journalists were massacred in Maguindanao in 2009. The International Press Institute (IPI) said 788 journalists was killed around the world in 2000-2010, 96 of them in the Philippines.

DC-based Freedom House released a report on the eve of World Press Freedom Day which said that of the 196 countries they examined, the Philippines ranked 93rd, a 4-rung fall from its 2010 standing.

“The score for the Philippines recovered somewhat having dropped in 2009 due to that year’s massacre which claimed the lives of 32 journalists and media workers,” the report concluded.

State Secretary Hillary Clinton said World Press Freedom Day is an opportunity to “honor those who promote and protect the freedom of expression, and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives while giving voice to those who may not have the opportunity to express themselves freely.”

“Even as we celebrate innovations that make information easier to share, we are reminded that in many places around the world, journalists are still targeted for harassment and abuse, and are sometimes killed,” she declared.

The IPI said Asia, where 40 journalists were slain during the past decade, was the most dangerous region for media people. Iraq topped the list of most dangerous countries, followed by the Philippines and Colombia.

The conference focused on the theme “21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers” that delved on new opportunities as well as challenges for various new media outlets, especially social networks that have fueled political change and held governments more accountable to their people. “New media empowers individuals around the world to share information and express opinions in ways unimaginable just 10 years ago,” Clinton noted.

But she also reminded her audience that “journalism is a calling of everyday heroes”.

“We must continue to stand up for those who speak out in perilous circumstances as they pursue, record and report the truth,” she added.

In the Philippines, the trial of suspects in the Maguindanao massacre, including members of a powerful Mindanao clan, is slowly moving in the courts. It is considered the worst election-related violence in a nation that already has its fill of political killings.

Freedom House said the killing and harassment of journalists in the Philippines continue. Adding that “impunity for such crimes remained the norm” even today.

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