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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s too soon to expect a turnaround in the
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
Do you believe the free flow of information must be protected? Sign the #RightToReport petition and demand that President Obama immediately:
1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations.
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers.
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border.
Or click here to see the full petition, and join leading journalists like Christiane Amanpour, The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the AP Kathleen Carroll, and Arianna Huffington in signing on.