Maguindanao Massacre: Half a Year of Mourning for Justice

To date, the Ampatuan massacre is still the worst political killing in the country with the most number of journalists/media practitioners killed in a single event.

By JENNY S. DE VENECIA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Justice has been elusive for the families of the victims of the Maguindanao massacre and as the media marked the sixth month since the gruesome killings were committed, a lone and widowed wife joined as they continue to seek justice for the slain victims.

With their traditional black shirts, candles and banners demanding for justice, Editha Tiamzon, wife of UNTV driver Daniel Tiamzon, and journalists led by Malaya Business Insight, marched along Port Area, Manila, Sunday, May 23.

Despite the tremendous risk to her security, Editha still chose to participate in the event to continue the fight against the powerful Ampatuan clan. “If I won’t go out and shout for justice for the victims, these killings will be forgotten,” she said in Filipino during the program.

“It has been six months, my children and I are missing my husband,” Editha said. She said she will continue to fight for justice even if it takes a year for it to be served. “I am thanking everyone who is helping us, including the media people who have supported us since the beginning,” she added.

Karapatan and other media organizations namely the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ), Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) and Kapisanan ng Broadkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) also participated in the event.

The program commemorated the infamous Maguindanao massacre, in which 57 people were abducted and brutally killed last November 23, 2009 in the town of Ampatuan, Maguindanao. Among the victims were 32 journalists/media practitioners who escorted the wife and sisters of Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu in filing his certificate of candidacy for governor.

To date, the Ampatuan massacre is still the worst political killing in the country with the most number of journalists/media practitioners killed in a single event.

Three Big Candles

Highlighting the event was the lighting of three candles symbolizing Press Freedom, Rule of Law and State Accountability – three issues that media organizations want the government to address.

According to NUJP Secretary General Frederico “Sonny��� Fernandez, these were trampled upon and were killed along with the 32 journalists/media practitioners who were slain in the Ampatuan massacre.The NUJP emphasized the need for these three concerns to be addressed as soon as possible.

Fernandez added that the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration has neglected these looming issues. “The accountability of the government lies not only to the Ampatuan massacre victims but also to the journalists who were killed since 1986,” he said in Filipino.

Over 137 journalists have already been killed in their line of duty, 100 of them were killed during the Arroyo regime, and yet, only seven of these had convictions. “All the convicted suspects were only triggermen, the masterminds were not identified,” Fernandez said.

“It is sad knowing that when Arroyo’s term ends on June 23, she will leave behind an infamy – a legacy of neglecting media killings and extrajudicial killings,” he said.

An Appeal to the Next Government

Giving up on Arroyo, the families and the media organizations pass on the responsibility of bringing justice to the victims to President-elect Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

“We expect that Noynoy Aquino will include the Amapatuan massacre as one of his urgent concerns,” Fernandez said. According to him, if press freedom is being violated, other rights are prone to be violated as well. “We want his commitment,” he added.

NUJP reiterates that the right to press freedom and that of journalists should always be protected and the culture of impunity has to stop. (Bulatlat.com)

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  1. · Edit

    Until when must the victims relatives should wait for the much awaited justice.

    The Arroyo's regime is gone and hopefully the new government would looked deeper to this case.

    Remember FPJ was zero vote in Maguindanao.

    was there a case filed at the shariah court who could dispense faster justice since they are muslims there it must be tried likewise.

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