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Blog   |   Philippines

CPJ's Press Freedom Awards remember Maguindanao

Members of CPJ's delegation to the Philippines can be seen here in a video still on the killing grounds where 57 people lost their lives in the Maguindano massacre.
November 23 marked both an evening of celebration of the courageous and remembrance of the slain: CPJ's annual International Press Freedom Awards fell on the exact one-year anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre in the Philippines, the deadliest attack on the press ever recorded in CPJ history.
November 24, 2010 12:26 PM ET


Blog   |   Philippines

Marking Maguindanao, events for reflection, justice

Tuesday is the anniversary of the deadliest attack on the press ever recorded by CPJ. On November 23, 2009, 32 journalists and media workers were shot and killed in a massacre of 57 people in Ampatuan, in the southern province of Maguindanao. The victims were part of a convoy accompanying the supporters and relatives of a local politician filing candidacy papers in the provincial govenrnor's race. 

November 22, 2010 4:41 PM ET


Blog   |   Philippines

Remembering Philippine prosecutor Leo Dacera


Leo Dacera, a senior state prosecutor and head of the witness protection program for the Philippine Department of Justice, died suddenly on November 4. Initial news reports said Dacera, 54, left, was the victim of an apparent heart attack. Dacera's untimely death is a tremendous blow to all those seeking to end the culture of impunity in Philippine journalist murders. 

Blog   |   Philippines

Despite fatal shootout, Philippines officials meet with CPJ

President Aquino, here with his cabinet at Malacañang Palace, has frankly addressed issues like impunity and journalists' rights. (Reuters/Romeo Ranoco)
About 18 hours after eight hostages and the gunmen holding them in a tourist bus were killed in a shootout with police in the heart of Manila, officials broke away from the demands of the moment to meet with a CPJ delegation in the president's offices at Malacañang Palace. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima was also scheduled to attend, but she was laid up in the hospital, suffering from pneumonia and exhaustion. With the ugly resolution of the hostage situation--it happened less than a mile from Malacañang--President Benigno Aquino understandably had pressing matters to attend to. 

Blog   |   Philippines

From grief of Maguindanao, a 'family' emerges

Families at the graves of Maguindanao victims. (Aquiles Zonio)

Today marks nine months since the Maguindanao massacre, the deadliest event for the press that CPJ has ever recorded.  On November 23, 2009, at 10 a.m., a convoy traveling to the provincial capital of Shariff Aquak to file gubernatorial candidacy papers stopped at what appeared to be a routine military checkpoint. Hours later, authorities would find the bodies of 57 people, among them 32 journalists and media workers, who had been executed and their bodies dumped 3 kilometers from the main road.

Blog   |   Philippines

'Litmus test' begins in Maguindanao prosecution

Defendant Andal Ampatuan Jr. (AFP)

A judge's decision today to set a September 1 trial date for several defendants in the Maguindanao massacre highlights a positive development in what has been a very ugly story. The judge appeared determined to move the case forward and, for now, seemed able to keep the large legal teams in line. 

Quezon City Regional Trial Court Justice Jocelyn Solis-Reyes needed only 45 minutes to set a no-nonsense tone for a case that is going to be closely watched in the Philippines and around the world. Recently elected President Benigno Aquino and his justice secretary, Leila de Lima, have made it clear that they grasp the importance of building a dynamic legal system to match their aspirations for national growth. De Lima has been calling the Maguindanao trial a "litmus test" for a Philippines judicial system that has been known for extended delays and pervasive conflict of interest.

August 17, 2010 2:31 PM ET


Blog   |   Philippines

To combat Philippine impunity, Aquino needs new tactics

Aquino takes the oath of office in Manila. (AP/Bullit Marquez)

It’s too soon to expect a turnaround in the Philippines’ miserable record of attacks on journalists. President Benigno Aquino was sworn in just two weeks ago. The problem of unprosecuted journalist murders—the Philippines ranks third on CPJ’s Impunity Index—is embedded in a political culture of widespread violence and little law enforcement. That hasn’t changed, and here are two cases that illustrate the situation.

July 16, 2010 10:32 AM ET


Blog   |   Philippines

Justice takes twisting turns in Philippines massacre

Andal Ampatuan Jr., a defendant in the killings, is taken to court in Manila. (Reuters/Roi Azure)An apparent injustice has been reversed—Philippines Justice Secretary Alberto Agra refiled murder charges against two key figures in the November 2009 mass killing of journalists and others in Maguindanao. On April 19, we filed an alert expressing our dismay that Agra had dropped murder charges against Zaldy Ampatuan, former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and his uncle, Akmad Ampatuan, former mayor of Mamasapano on the southern island of Mindanao. The unilateral call by Agra had overruled the Quezon City Regional Court, which is hearing the Maguindanao massacre case. The charges against four other members of the powerful Ampatuan clan were not dropped.

Blog   |   CPJ, Colombia, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia

Impunity Summit: Solidarity in fighting journalist murders

María Teresa Ronderos and Sergei Sokolov at CPJ's Impunity Summit at Columbia. (CPJ)

Every day at CPJ, we count numbers: 18 journalists killed in Russia since 2000, 32 journalists and media workers slaughtered in the Maguindanao massacre, 88 journalists murdered over the last 10 years in Iraq. But on Tuesday night at CPJ’s Impunity Summit at Columbia University, CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon clarified why we were gathered: “At the end of the day, it’s not about numbers,” he said. “It’s about people.”

Blog   |   Philippines

Philippine high court spokesman: Death threats ‘funny’

Marquez (AP)Midas Marquez, spokesman for the Philippine Supreme Court, has told local reporters that he considers death threats sent anonymously by text message to journalist Marites Dañguilan Vitug to be “funny” and “ridiculous.” Marquez was asked to comment in his official role because the threats began shortly after the release of Vitug’s new book, Shadow of Doubt: Probing the Supreme Court, which critiques the inner workings of the high court.


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