A new angle on Filipino journalists

I have to admit, I am an American through and through. So, along with my American arrogance and my journalist’s sensibilities, I have never thought much of journalists from the Philippines, especially if the newspapers I see stateside are any indication.

But this article from the American Journalism Review really shocked me. I mean, I know that the Philippines’ system of government is about as organized as Mexico’s (i.e. justice is only for those who can’t afford to avoid it), but it never occurred to me how dangerous it could be to be a journalist there.

…nowhere is as deadly as the Philippines. In a May report titled “Marked for Death,” the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists listed the island nation as the most murderous country in the world for the media, ahead of Iraq. Five journalists have been killed in 2005, including an investigative reporter executed in front of her children on March 24.

Twenty-two have been slain since 2000, the majority radio broadcasters from rural provinces where local warlords, drug traffickers and rebel factions reign. Dozens more have been wounded by gunfire during attacks; some have had bombs thrown into their homes. Masked gunmen have burst into newsrooms, tying up employees and splashing acid on equipment. In one case, a police chief seeking revenge challenged a radio reporter to a duel.

Then came an infamous week in May.

The Filipino press corps was stunned when two provincial journalists were murdered within seven days. On May 4, gunmen opened fire on Klein Cantoneros, a radio broadcaster from the island of Mindanao, as he rode home on his motorbike. On May 10, Philip Agustin, the editor and publisher of a newspaper in the town of Dingalan, was shot in the head in his daughter’s kitchen as she prepared a late-night meal for him.

Man. I was hoping to one day visit the Philippines again with my mom and my husband, but seeing as how my husband is black, that will surely peg us as Americans and make it all the more dangerous for us. I don’t know if its worth it.