VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Andanar misleads in claiming PH not among 'deadliest countries for journalists'

Read this fact check in Filipino

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar claimed in an Oct. 12 radio interview that the Philippines was no longer among the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists due to the “swift resolution" of the Maguindanao massacre in 2019, which, he said, formed part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s legacy.

This is inaccurate on two counts.

The incident, tagged by media advocacy groups as the single deadliest attack against journalists, claimed the lives of 58 people, including 32 media workers in 2009. (See Justice is served in the decade-long Maguindanao massacre case, except for one)

Watch this video:

A look at the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) barometer on press freedom violations shows that the Philippines has fallen in and out of the top five deadliest countries for journalists from 2009 to 2020. Its barometer covers January 1 to December 31 of each reporting year, explained RSF in an Oct. 22 email to VERA Files Fact Check.

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Further debunking Andanar’s claim, the country ranked higher in 2019 (tied at third with three others) — when the Maguindanao massacre conviction was handed down — than the previous year (tied at sixth with four others), though the tally of killings was the same (three).

In 2020, the Philippines moved down from fifth to seventh worst country worldwide in the Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ) Global Impunity Index.

This was because the Maguindanao massacre “no longer fell into the 10-year time frame for calculating the index.” (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Media task force chief’s claim on conviction of accused in Maguindanao massacre lacks context)

The CPJ also said the landmark conviction in December 2019 of several perpetrators of the Maguindanao massacre changed the status of the case to partial impunity from full impunity.

For this reason, the decade-long case “would no longer have figured into the index calculation regardless of the time frame.”

The CPJ noted in its 2020 report, however, that while the Philippines is now the “seventh worst” country, it still has 11 unsolved murders of journalists in the current 10-year index period (2010-2020).


Sources

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Ten years for justice in Maguindanao case is too long: We can do better, Dec. 19, 2019

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Philippines: 11 years after Ampatuan massacre, impunity remains rife, Nov. 23, 2020

Martin Andanar Official Facebook Page, Interview with Daisy Del Valle and Helen Pilaro De Guzman of One FM 92.1 Mindoro for Para sa Bayan, Oct. 12, 2021

PTV Official Youtube Channel, FEATURE: Mga naganap sa Maguindanao massacre, Dec. 18, 2019

PTV Official Youtube Channel, ICYMI | Promulgation of the Maguindanao Massacre Case #MaguindanaoMassacreVerdict, Dec. 19, 2019

Reporters Without Borders, Violations of press freedom barometer (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020), Accessed Oct. 14, 2021

CNN Philippines, Ampatuans head to CA to appeal Maguindanao massacre convictions, Jan. 1, 2020

Inquirer.net, Zaldy Ampatuan to appeal Maguindanao massacre guilty verdict to CA, Jan. 3, 2020

Philstar.com, Andal Jr., Zaldy to take convictions to CA, Jan. 4, 2020

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), About: What We Do, Accessed Oct. 19, 2021

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Getting Away with Murder: CPJ’s 2019 Global Impunity Index spotlights countries where journalists are slain and their killers go free, Oct. 29, 2019

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Getting Away with Murder: CPJ’s 2020 Global Impunity Index spotlights countries where journalists are slain and their killers go free, Oct. 28, 2020

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Getting Away with Murder: CPJ’s 2020 Global Impunity Index (Methodology), Oct. 28, 2020


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

Have you seen any dubious claims, photos, memes, or online posts that you want us to verify? Send us a message here or here.

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