Dismantling the culture of impunity

Impunity
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In 2015 the Philippines was number four in the Committee to Protect Journalists’(CPJ) Impunity Index, after Somalia, Iraq and Syria. The Index lists those countries where the killers of journalists are seldom, if ever, punished, with many literally getting away with murder. The first three countries are failed states, which raises the question of why the Philippines should be in their company, but the numbers speak for themselves. Only in 11cases out of 152 journalists’ murders since 1986 have the killers of journalists and media workers been prosecuted, and very rarely have masterminds been tried.

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Lethal mix

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JOURNALISTS AND POLITICIANS have always had an uneasy, troubled, and troubling relationship, whether in those countries that are, or which claim to be democracies, and even in dictatorships. But in this country where politics rules both during and between elections, the relationship has sometimes been lethal.

The “Fourth Estate” function of monitoring government often puts competent and honest journalists on a collision course with government officials whether appointed or elected, and with those politicians running for public office during election season. For the dishonest, paid partisanship leads to the same, at times deadly course with his or her patron’s rivals.

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Interpreting the world: The writer as public intellectual

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(Keynote speech at the PEN Philippines Conference, December 6-7, 2012)

Founding Chairman Sionil Jose, Chairman Lumbera, Members Of The Board Of Directors Of Philippine PEN, Friends, Ladies And Gentlemen:

A COLLEAGUE at the University of the Philippines thinks the phrase public intellectual redundant, and wonders who may properly be called writers in the Philippine setting. It would seem then that a few definitions are in order.

But we all know who, or what, the writer is. He or she is a poet, an essayist and/or a novelist, as the initials and acronym of this organization suggest. But he or she is also the writer of the editorials and columns, the investigative and explanatory reports that are among the many forms journalism has developed in discharging its public task of describing and interpreting the human environments. In the digital age, the writer is also the blogger who makes it his concern to gather and provide information on issues of citizen concern and to comment on them online.

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