The overwhelming issue facing the Philippine press in 2003 was the increasing number of journalists murdered with impunity. In the last year alone, at least five journalists were slain in the course of their work--a toll surpassed only by war-related killings of journalists in Iraq. But in the Philippines, this violence is not a temporary aberration; it has become the normal state of affairs, year after year. While the Philippine media have been among the freest in the developing world since democracy was restored in 1986, more than 40 journalists there have been slain. No one has been convicted in any of the killings.
New York, January 2, 2004—A total of 36 journalists were killed worldwide as a direct result of their work in 2003, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). This is a sharp increase from 2002, when 19 journalists were killed. The war in Iraq was the primary reason for the increase, as 13 journalists, more than a third of this year's casualties, were killed in hostile actions.
In fact, according to CPJ's statistics, the death toll in Iraq was the highest annual total from a single country since 24 journalists were killed in Algeria in 1995 at the height of civil strife between the government and Islamist militants.
New York, September 8, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the recent spate of attacks on journalists in the Philippines. CPJ is currently investigating the murders of three reporters killed during the last three weeks.
In the most recent incident, journalist Juan “Jun” Pala was killed in the southern city of Davao on Saturday, September 6. Pala, a commentator on DXGO radio, was also known as an anti-communist activist. The motive for his murder is unclear.