KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/22 November) – Pressure from local politicians and groups involved in syndicated crimes and illegal activities are among the main hazards facing journalists in Mindanao as well as in other parts of the country, participants to the two-day media risk-mapping workshop here that started Sunday said.
According to the workshop reports, the pressure would range from giving bribes and other financial incentives to issuing threats against journalists who expose the alleged wrongdoings of officials and criminal activities like illegal logging and illegal drug trade.
The reports said local journalists are vulnerable to bribes owing to their low salaries and the absence of security of tenure.
Journalists who have succumbed to such pressure have inevitably become partisan and in some cases come into conflict with other journalists who are receiving payola from other officials and individuals, the reports added.
The presence of private armies and law enforcers with links to politicians and syndicates as well as the “ineffective justice system” make it harder for journalists to resist the pressure, according to the reports.
These threats have forced some journalists to practice self-censorship by choosing to report on issues which they think would not earn the ire of powerful entities, the reports said.
Organized by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, the workshop is part of the commemoration of the first anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre which killed 58 people, 32 of them journalists and media workers. It aims to identify the threats confronting journalists and to come up with possible measures to counter such threats.
Some 40 journalists from Mindanao, the Visayas, Luzon and Metro Manila attended the workshop. (MindaNews)