Center for People Empowerment in Governance
October 2021 / Public Edition

Major Presidential Bets Formalize Candidacies but Last-Minute Surprises still Possible till Mid-November

Of the 97 individuals who filed their certificates of candidacy for the presidency during the regular filing period in October 2021, six or at most seven may be considered to be serious candidates. These personalities include:  Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson (Reporma Party), Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao (PROMDI and PCM Alliance), former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. (Partido Federal ng Pilipinas), Vice-President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo (Independent), Manila city mayor, Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso (Aksyon Demokratiko), and labor leader Leodegario “Ka Leody” de Guzman (Partido Lakas ng Masa). Another incumbent senator who filed on the last day, Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, is widely seen as a “placeholder” who could be replaced by whoever will be the final presidential candidate of the Cusi-Duterte faction of the PDP-Laban party. Sen. De la Rosa, himself, candidly admitted that he was completely surprised by his party’s last-minute nomination of him and that he was willing to give up the position anytime to a more viable candidate.

For the vice-presidential position, 27 individuals formally submitted their certificates of candidacies but a closer look also trims the number of serious candidates to about six although Bongbong Marcos, Jr. has yet to name his running mate. These candidates are also the running mates of the six presidential bets named above: Buhay Party List Rep. and former Manila city mayor Jose “Lito” Atienza, Jr., with Senator Pacquiao; Dr. Willie Ong with Mayor Isko Moreno; Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III who is running with Senator Lacson; Senator Francisco “Kiko” Pangilinan in tandem with Vice President Robredo; Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go as the official candidate of the Duterte-Cusi faction of PDP-Laban; and former party list representative and well-known activist-scholar, Walden Bello, as the vice-presidential candidate of Ka Leody de Guzman.

In the configuration of political forces and personalities as seen in the presidential and vice-presidential candidacies, what stands out is a divided broad opposition (five candidates) as against a single candidate (Marcos, Jr.) so far, who is identified with the administration. Failing to unite on a single, unified slate, the broad, divided opposition faces the very real danger of a possible single administration candidate and slate with Marcos, Jr. running with Davao City Mayor Sara or even a Marcos, Jr. tandem with Sen. Bong Go. The continuing puzzle concerns the possible candidacy of presidential daughter Mayor Sara Duterte for the presidency or the vice-presidency at the last minute (substitution allowed until Nov. 15) although she had already filed for re-election for the Davao city mayorship. The broad opposition is also saddled by the perception of critics that they have all been enablers and supporters of President Duterte’s contentious major policies in the last five years, with the exception of VP Leni Robredo and Ka Leody de Guzman.


Political Narratives and Policy Statements of Presidential Bets

In the absence of a tradition of strongly institutionalized parties committed to clear policy positions and governance platforms, electoral politics in the country thrive on marketing the political narratives of individual candidates and highlighting their dramatic, populist statements on current issues. Lacking coherent platforms at this stage, here are some of the current narratives and policy positions by the major presidential candidates:


Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso: Bilis Kilos (Fast Doer)

Consistent with their socio-economic backgrounds of having come from genuinely poor, struggling families, both Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno and Senator Pacquiao predictably showcase a narrative of “from rags to riches/success” story, anchored on the premise that this background naturally links their interest and concerns with that of the poor and powerless in society.

With his youthful charisma and movie-world good looks and personality, Mayor Isko backs up his narrative with his projection of an impressive governance track record in serving his constituents with his long experience as a Manila city councilor, vice-mayor, and first term Mayor, and also as one-time undersecretary in the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) under President Duterte. In his less than three years stint as Manila city mayor, Moreno takes pride in highlighting his accomplishments in public housing for city employees and poor families, modernizing the city’s lead public hospital and also his decisive responses to the Covid-19 crisis in the city. Building on these projects, he has crafted a political slogan of the “Bilis Kilos-Fast Doer” executive, a hands-on leader who is decisive and quick to action. He has responded to the current escalating oil and gas prices by recommending the immediate suspension of the excise tax on these products. Selecting a medical doctor as his running mate, Dr. Willie Ong, Mayor Isko signals that public health issues will be among his top priorities.

The Manila mayor has projected himself as a “healing president” but this stance has also encumbered him from coming out with clear-cut positions on many controversial issues, especially those involving his political relations with President Duterte and the Marcoses.

As a presidential candidate, Mayor Isko lacks a proven national electoral base and in fact lost in his first foray into national politics when he unsuccessfully ran for the Senate in 2016. In one sense, his inability to include more candidates in his Senate slate beyond the current three personalities (Muslim women’s leader, Samira Gutoc, entrepreneur Carl Balita, and former Quezon City councilor, Jopet Sison) hints at his relatively limited political network. However, this early he has received the endorsement of well-known political figures including Sen. Ralph Recto and spouse, House Deputy Speaker and Rep. Vilma Santos, former senator Serge Osmeña, and some of the Mangudadatu clan leaders in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). Mayor Isko’s strongest electoral base is the National Capital Region and the rest of Luzon but this will be strongly contested by the other Luzon-based candidates. In the September poll surveys, Mayor Isko ranked last in Mindanao among the major presidential bets but did reasonably well in the Visayas.


Sen. Manny Pacquiao: Boxing hero

With his boxing prowess and unprecedented championship bouts in several weight categories, Sen. Manny Pacquiao is an authentic athletic hero for Filipinos from all walks of life. Not surprisingly, Pacquiao hopes to translate this popularity into a winning campaign for the presidency with Classes D (especially lower D) and E and Mindanao voters as his expected support base. After formally declaring his intention to run for the presidency, he immediately announced a policy of free public housing for the poor families in Metro Manila.

Pacquiao’s campaign faces at least two major weaknesses: first, he has lost the official party support of PDP-Laban, helpful to waging a national campaign to translate his popularity into actual votes; secondly, he is vulnerable to charges that he lacks a credible governance track record and the skills and experience necessary for the presidency. For most of his time in both the lower house and the Senate, he was preoccupied with his boxing matches and has little legislative track record to speak of. He was the principal author of only one bill that was approved as the National Bible Day law. Before his parting of ways with President Duterte, he supported the key policy issues of the president including the drug war, the ouster of Supreme Court Chief Justice Sereno, the detention of Senator de Lima, the Anti-Terror Law, the death penalty, the Marcos burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani while opposing the Anti-Dynasty Law.

Pacquiao’s refusal to support an Anti-Dynasty Law reflects his own dynasty-building experience in Sarangani province and General Santos City. Two of his brothers are currently members of the House of Representatives with one as an elected party list official while other relatives have been elected into various local government positions. Pacquiao has also established his own local party, the People’s Champ Movement (PCM). His choice of Rep. and former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza as his running mate seeks to address a clear electoral weakness in the National Capital Region (NCR) and the rest of Luzon. He ranked second in the Visayas and Mindanao and in Class E in the September poll surveys.

The ten-member Senate slate of Pacquiao features the so-called “Favored Five” candidates who are also included in the senate slates of Robredo-Pangilinan and Lacson-Sotto. These five candidates are re-electionist senators Miguel Zubiri, Richard Gordon, and Joel Villanueva, former vice-president Jejomar Binay, and former senator and incumbent Sorsogon governor Francis Escudero. The fact that the same set of candidates can run as so-called “guest candidates” in the slates of other presidential bets further attests to the complete irrelevance of party affiliations in the country’s political system. Another candidate of Pacquiao’s slate is former senator and incumbent Rep. Loren Legarda, who is also in the senate team of Lacson-Sotto. But what makes Pacquiao’s senate slate interesting and different from the other presidential bets is the inclusion of two personalities from the Makabayan bloc, the country’s strongest legal Left formation: former Bayan Muna party list representative, Neri Colmenares, and Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, chairperson of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May 1 Movement) labor confederation. Hoping to strengthen his appeal to the working classses, Senator Pacquiao has announced that he will put an end to the practice of work contractualization in both the private and public sectors.


Sen. Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson: Budget guardian

From a professional career as a police officer climaxing as head of the Philippine National Police (PNP), three-term senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson has reinvented himself as the country’s guardian of the country’s coffers (budgeting process in Congress) and as anti-corruption champion. Lacking the natural mass appeal of presidential bets Sen. Pacquiao and Mayor Moreno, Lacson projects an image of the stern but reliable and rational technocrat perceived by some as a more rational, benign version of Duterte.

As a veteran senator, he has authored or co-sponsored many consequential laws including the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, the AFP Modernization Act, the Anti-Money Laundering Act, the Sin Tax Reform Act, and the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act. In 2020, he was the principal author of the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act which was assailed by human rights and civil society groups as a dangerous law that provided an expansive definition of “terrorism”, heightened the powers of executive agencies and the military in prosecuting and detaining suspects, and the red-tagging of legitimate dissenters against the Duterte administration.

His most recent policy pronouncements include the following: support for responsible mining, digitizing government transactions to curb corruption, exempting public officials from being covered by the Bank Secrecy Law, allowing joint oil explorations including those in the West Philippine Sea as long as these comply with the constitutional provision of 60%-40% ownership in favor of Filipinos, building alliances with other countries including the United States to help strengthen security in the region, suspend increases in oil taxes to deal with spikes in crude prices, devolution of public health services to local government units, and a science-driven response to pandemics.

For his vice-presidential running mate, Lacson has chosen veteran four-term senator, Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, who has been Senate President since 2018. Largely supportive of President Duterte’s major policies in the first five years of the administration, Senator Sotto has also sought to protect the institutional independence of the Senate in situations where presidential overreach threatened to curtail the institution’s mandated powers on legislative investigations especially those in aid of legislation. Sotto’s choice as a vice-presidential bet by Lacson also injects into their campaign the mass appeal that is potentially to be gained by the movie-television persona of the former and the support of the Nationalist Peoples’ Coalition (NPC) network of which Sotto is the chairperson.

While other presidential bets have difficulty filling up the normal 12-member Senate slate, the Lacson-Sotto team went overboard by actually including 13 candidates. Aside from the “Favored Five” (Binay, Escudero, Gordon, Villanueva, and Zubiri), the other Senate bets include re-electionist senator Sherwin Gatchalian, former senators Loren Legarda, Gregorio Honasan, and Joseph Victor Ejercito, former Quezon city mayor Herbert Bautista, former agriculture secretary Manny Piñol, former Makati representative Monsour del Rosario, and media practitioner Paulo Capino.


Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.: Waiting for Duterte’s support

At the end of October 2021 and three weeks after the last filing day for the 2022 elections, former Senator Marcos, Jr. has yet to announce a vice presidential running mate or a Senate slate. He is also running under the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, a new party founded only in 2018 by close allies of President Duterte led by outgoing Agrarian Reform Secretary John R. Castriciones. Marcos, Jr., has assumed the chairmanship of Partido Federal.

The original game plan of Marcos, Jr. for the 2022 elections assumed that he could work out a partnership with the Dutertes, either with Mayor Sara Duterte or the president himself. Initially, Marcos, Jr. was open to the possibility of a Marcos-President Duterte tandem or with Mayor Sara as either a presidential or vice-presidential teammate. This projection began to unravel when the PDP-Laban first announced its preferred tandem of Sen. Bong Go-President Duterte. In turn, this provoked the irreparable split within PDP-Laban with another faction supporting the presidential bid of Senator Pacquiao who was then the party’s president.

When President Duterte announced that he was no longer running for the vice-presidency, the Duterte-Cusi faction of PDP-Laban adjusted by naming Sen. Bong Go as its vice-presidential bet but also withholding its choice for a presidential bet. All this time, the big question was whether Mayor Sara would agree to be the presidential bet of PDP-Laban but the mayor appeared uninterested and instead filed her candidacy for reelection as mayor of Davao city. On the very last day of the filing of candidacies, the Cusi faction prevailed upon Sen. Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa to file for the presidency, a last-minute action seen as biding time to search for a more viable candidate till the last day of candidate substitutions on Nov. 15.

(In a latest development, Inday Sara withdrew on Nov. 9 her COC for reelection as Davao City mayor giving rise to speculations that she would finally run for president or as vice president of Marcos Jr.)

Another puzzle lies in the reluctance of the Dutertes or the Cusi-PDP-Laban faction to simply adopt Marcos, Jr. either as their presidential or vice-presidential bet, considering that the latter has been doing very well in all poll surveys. It is possible that both political families lack trust in each other as each has long-term political interests that are not necessarily compatible with their possible future apportionment of power and spoils. Following this line of thinking, electoral alliances between these two families in the recent past have been largely opportunistic, tactical electoral measures and that political debts on both sides have been deemed largely paid.

In any case, the march of events now shows that with the Marcos family’s huge financial and organizational resources and a project of historical revisionism to paper over the dark legacies of dictatorial rule, Marcos, Jr. had been prepared all along to run for the presidency with or without the support of the Dutertes. But if he runs without the direct support of President Duterte or Mayor Sara, Marcos, Jr., faces the uncertainty of translating partisan support for the Dutertes in his favor especially in Mindanao where his electoral base is the weakest. Moreover, even the Dutertes’ Mindanao bailiwick is now facing new challenges from the opposition with the candidacy of Senator Pacquiao, the anti-Duterte stance of former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, and new opposition support in the Bukidnon (via the Zubiri clan) area and in the Misamis Oriental-Cagayan de Oro corridor through the Pimentel and Moreno clans.


Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo: New leadership style

Ending months of speculation about her political intentions in 2022, Vice-President Leni Robredo ignited an impressive outpouring of support after her formal filing of candidacy for the presidency. Both in social media and in public displays of support such as in the simultaneous caravans in 25 cities and provinces all over the country shortly after her declaration, Robredo has no doubt energized her electoral base. If politics is simply about creating energy and enthusiasm, it appears that Robredo has sparked this momentum but also with uncertain outcomes this early.

Among the presidential bets but with the exception of Ka Leody de Guzman and his Partido Lakas ng Masa, Robredo presents the sharpest departure from Duterte’s “boss-mayor” mindset and authoritarian leadership style. With her life story as a hard-working, widowed woman, the narrative of a loving and caring mother who fights resolutely for both family and country resonates well with her. Her work background as a lawyer for the poor and marginalized sectors through the Public Attorney’s Office and other volunteer legal services has instilled in her an inclusive and consultative leadership style markedly different from that of Duterte.

Excluded from the Cabinet and working with the limited budget and donations from international agencies, the Office of the Vice-President under Robredo reached out to the poor communities through her “Angat-Buhay/Improve Livelihood Program”. This includes livelihood projects with feeding programs, medical missions, and educational support. During the pandemic, her office put into motion a program that combined mobile antigen testing, free shuttle services for frontliners, free Covid-19 kits for patients, and free gadgets for students.

In her policy statements since her formal declaration for the presidency, Robredo has stressed the need for prioritizing effective responses to the pandemic so that the economy can recover. In one of her latest policy statements, Robredo announced a “Kalayaan sa Covid Plan/Freedom from Covid Plan” that integrates projects on free and accessible health care, prompt economic support especially for workers, farmers and fisherfolks, and small and medium scale industries, and support for teachers and students in coping with the pandemic including the setting up of internet-enabled community learning hubs.

In another surprise move, Robredo announced that she is running as an Independent to project a more inclusive coalition for her campaign and not under her default party, the Liberal Party (LP) of which she is also the chairperson. Aligned with this goal, she has also adopted the color pink as her official campaign color and not the color yellow long associated with the Aquino family and the LP. However, the LP continues to play a major role in Robredo’s campaign as seen in the selection of LP president and four-term senator Francisco “Kiko” Pangilinan as her vice-presidential bet. Moreover, LP stalwarts including Sen. Franklin Drilon and former senator Bam Aquino will serve as campaign managers.

Robredo’s complete 12-person Senate slate shows the difficulty of balancing the competing demands of inclusivity and winnability. Like the senate slates of Lacson-Sotto and Pacquiao-Atienza, Robredo’s senate lineup also includes the “Favored Five” candidates (Binay, Escudero, Gordon, Villanueva, and Zubiri). The inclusion of other LP figures such as detained Sen. Leila de Lima and former Ifugao representative, Teodoro Baguilat, Jr. and close LP ally, Sen. Risa Hontiveros of Akbayan Party list further reinforces the LP presence in the slate. While he is seen as an independent human rights lawyer, Atty. Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno, chair of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) and founding dean of the La Salle College of Law, also ran under the LP in the 2019 elections. Another member of Robredo’s senate slate, Atty. Alexander L. Lacson, a noted writer, civil society leader and good governance advocate is a member of Kapatiran Party but also ran for the Senate under the LP in the 2010 elections. A long-time fierce critic of President Duterte and antagonist of the Left, former senator Antonio Trillanes of the Magdalo Party is the most contentious member of Robredo’s senate slate.

Choosing the final slot for Robredo’s senate slate proved to be the most challenging for the vice-president. She announced that the 12th slot will be given to a representative of the marginalized sectors and the choice was eventually narrowed down to two: veteran activist and former three-term Bayan Muna party list representative Atty. Neri Colmenares and Atty. Jose “Sonny” Matula, president of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW) and chair of the Nagkaisa Labor Coalition (united labor coalition). Endorsed by 1Sambayan as one of its original convenors, Colmenares actually placed second to Trillanes in the final internal survey for senatorial positions conducted by the coalition established to unify the opposition. However, Trillanes strongly objected to Colmenares’ inclusion and the fear that the latter’s presence in the senate slate could lead to the red-tagging of the entire team prevailed in the final decision by Robredo. The irony here is that the Pacquiao-Atienza team, a more conservative political grouping on many counts, did not hesitate to unilaterally include in its Senate slate, the two best-known activists and Duterte antagonists: Attorney Colmenares and labor leader Elmer “Ka Bong” Labog, chair of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (May 1 Movement) federation.


The Unraveling of the PDP-Laban Party

From a ruling party seen as enjoying enormous advantages in the 2022 elections, the PDP-Laban finds itself in the most unenviable position of sorting out its key candidates for the presidency and vice-presidency long after the final filing dates. Its internal split between the Cusi faction and the Pacquiao-Pimentel followers has severely undermined the party’s organizational unity and its inability to decisively resolve the tensions with both Mayor Sara and Marcos, Jr. has compounded its woes.

If the Dela Rosa-Bong Go team remains unchanged after the final substitution day on 15 November, the party will be saddled by candidates seen as lacking the political gravitas and appeal of the other bets. Even assuming that Sen. Bong Go succeeds in retaining the support of the Duterte partisans and actually wins the vice-presidential position, this victory remains hollow if the presidency is won by the opposition. This situation will no doubt pose an existential threat to President Duterte when he loses his presidential immunity from suits almost certain to hound him in the face of a victorious opposition president.

The PDP-Laban initial slate of eight candidates also appears weak vis-à-vis the candidates of the other presidential bets, especially of Robredo-Pangilinan, Lacson-Sotto, and Pacquiao-Atienza whose slates include the “Favored Five”. In the last poll surveys, only two of the following administration senatorial bets show reasonable chances of making it to the winning circle of 12: former Public Works Secretary Mark Villar and former senator and Information and Telecommunications Secretary Gregorio Honasan. Lacking significant national awareness or any proven national electoral base, the other six administration candidates face scant winning chances: former Presidential Anti-Corruption Commissioner Greco Belgica, former Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones, radio broadcaster Rey Langit, 1-Sagip Party List Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, movie actor Robin Padilla, and former chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo.


The Socialist Candidates

One of the surprises of the 2022 elections is the candidacy for the presidency and vice-presidency of two personalities identified with worker-based parties and committed to a socialist platform of governance: labor leader Leodigario “Ka Leody” de Guzman and well-known activist-scholar and former party list representative Prof. Walden Bello of the Partido Lakas ng Masa.

The active participation at the level of presidential politics of socialist parties and personalities will deepen the level of political discussion and bring to light many issues directly linked with the interests of workers and other marginalized sectors in society. For instance, the Lakas ng Masa candidates are guided by a comprehensive 25-point governance platform that covers concerns necessary to the transformation to a more democratic and egalitarian society. Among their proposed reforms are: income and wealth taxes on the richest Filipinos, provision of a universal basic income, a minimum wage adjustable for inflation, the banning of workers’ contractualization, the repeal of the Anti-Terrorism Law, the prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of Duterte and key enforcers of the drug war and red-tagging, a shift to renewable energy sources, and a truly independent and internationalist foreign policy.

In addition to three party/coalition members running for the Senate (Atty. Luke Espiritu, and environmentalists Roy Cabonegro and David D’Angelo) Lakas ng Masa has also endorsed the following candidates for the Senate: Atty. Chel Diokno, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, Atty. Neri Colmenares, labor leader Elmer Labog, Atty. Sonny Matula and Sen. Leila de Lima. The progressive bets’ being supported by Lakas ng Masa continues the earlier electoral initiative in 2019 known as “Labor Win Coalition” of campaigning for common candidates representing worker and marginalized sectors. In a more strategic sense, these coordinated measures strengthen the foundations for a more unified, overall Left response to urgent societal concerns and changes.


Controversial Comelec Election Contract

In a decision that has alarmed election watchdogs and critics, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) awarded a contract to F2 Logistics to deliver all automated election-related equipment, forms, and supplies during the 2022 election. Such supplies include the vote counting machines (VCMs), transmission devices, canvassing machines, ballots, voters’ lists, etc.  F2 Logistics is a cargo forwarder company owned by Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy, a close associate of President Duterte who admitting donating P30 million to the president’s campaign in 2016. Worth P536 million, the deal has provoked allegations of conflict of interest.

F2 Logistics is a subsidiary of Uy’s holding firm Udenna Corporation which is also enmeshed in the controversial purchase of the Malampaya natural gas project.  Comelec reported that F2 Logistics submitted the lowest bid and that it cannot just automatically disqualify campaign donors from such bidding processes. Other groups such as the Automated System Election-Watch (AES Watch) contend that such questionable awards can only add to the public’s perception of the Comelec’s lack of independence. 

The Comelec has not also satisfactorily addressed many issues about the vulnerabilities of the automation system, starting with its lack of an Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for its overall election operations, the proper use of digital signatures generated by an independent body (not the machine-controlled signatures), the presence of suspicious and redundant transmission servers, and the need for prompt, adequate, and transparent Random Manual Audits, among others. Another source of major concern by many is the reality that all of the Comelec commissioners shall have been appointed by President Duterte by February 2022.


International Governance Indices Rate Philippines Poorly

Three international governance indices have evaluated the Philippines poorly in their latest reports: the Rule of Law Index, Pandemic-Induced Shocks Index, and the Impunity Index on Journalists.

In the latest Rule of Law Index of the World Justice Project released in October 2021, the Philippines dropped to 102nd among 139 countries, falling three more ranks from its rating last year. The ratings are done by an international private group of lawyers and experts in eight areas deemed to be indicative of the Rule of Law. These indicators where 1.0 is a perfect score include the following and the corresponding Philippine scores for each: constraints on government powers, 0.48; absence of corruption, 0.44; openness of government, 0.50; fundamental rights, 0.39; order and security, 0.63; regulatory enforcement, 0.48; civil justice, 0.45: and criminal justice, 0.31. Overall, the Philippines scored 0.46 points, its worst since scoring 0.53 in 2015, when the country was the most improved in Southeast Asia.

In the October 2021 ratings of the UK-based Oxford Economics on vulnerability to pandemic-induced shocks, the Philippines ranked last among 42 advanced and emerging countries covered by the study. The indicators for an economy’s overall vulnerability to Covid-19 in the study included the following: health infrastructure (including hospital beds and doctor intensity); the economic structure; health policy (such as vaccination rate, testing, contract tracing, and lockdown stringency); and epidemiology (daily cases and deaths). The same study said that the scores of the Philippines, Pakistan, and Egypt posted the “biggest deterioration” compared to a similar scoring in January this year.

According to the annual Impunity Index issued by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in October 2021, the Philippines remains one of the deadliest countries in the world for journalists. In this year’s CPJ study, only countries with five or more unresolved murders and killings of journalists were included and 12 countries made the list. Of the 85 recorded killings of journalists between 1992 and 2021 in the Philippines, or an average of three killings per day, 13 cases remain unsolved. Of the 12 countries in the study this year, the Philippines ranked the seventh worst. The CPJ noted that the rankings reflected how “conflict, political instability, and weak judicial mechanisms perpetuate a cycle of violence against journalists.” #



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