Reporters Without Borders

Les prédateurs

Private militias

Made up of thugs in the pay of corrupt politicians, paramilitary groups and contract hit men paid a few thousand dollars per killing, private militias continue to threaten and kill journalists. Authorities have shown themselves powerless in the face of these groups. Moreover, official corruption as well as links between some politicians and organized-crime networks often allow private militias to escape justice.

Some efforts have been made to halt the cycle of impunity. The most noteworthy example concerns the case of the massacre of 36 journalists on 23 November 2009 in Maguindanao province by the Ampatuan family’s militia. But in a climate dominated by bureaucratic ineptitude and lack of political will, legal proceedings against those responsible for the biggest mass-killing of journalists ever committed began more than two years ago and are still dragging on, without a single conviction.

In the first four months of 2012, two journalists were shot to death and two others survived murder attempts. Christopher Guarin, editor of Tatak News Nationwide and a host on radio station dxMD, was killed in am ambush on 5 January. Aldion Layao, a journalist with Super Radyo and dxRP, was murdered on 8 April on the island of Mindanao.

In almost all cases, the same method is used: masked men on motorcycles shoot their target in cold blood, in plain sight and in broad daylight. In many cases, the victims are local radio station hosts who clearly must have said things on the air to upset those who hired the hit-men. Killings are concentrated in the metropolitan areas of Manila, and Cagayan de Oro on the islands of Luzon and Mindanao.

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