Media groups demand justice: In year four of the Ampatuan Massacre
VARIOUS MEDIA groups, schools and the relatives of the Ampatuan massacre victims commemorated the fourth anniversary of the massacre and the third International Day to End Impunity through a “human chain” in Rajah Sulayman Park, Manila on November 22.
The human chain symbolized the call for justice for the 58 victims of the massacre, including 32 journalists and media workers.
Monet Salaysay, a widow of one of the victims, called directly on President Benigno Aquino III to help conclude the trial of those accused in planning and carrying out the massacre. “Kay President PNoy, nagmamakaawa ako. Sana sa four years na ito, huwag naman kayong magbingi-bingihan. Wag nyo namang pabayan itong kaso namin.,”
Al Pedroche of the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) asked those present to condemn what he said were the three “Justices”: “justice denied,” “justice delayed” and “justice for sale.” He urged the creation of a special court for the Ampatuan Massacre trial.
For his part, Jun Sepe of the Photojournalists Center of the Philippines, Inc. (PCP) said “ the real injustice is the slow pace of government.”
Meanwhile, during the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP-CMC) vigil on November 22, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) deputy director and former UP-CMC Luis V. Teodoro said “the fight against impunity is also a fight for authentic democracy.”
He also told the students in attendance that the Aquino administration has pulled ahead of earlier administrations in the number of journalists and media workers killed in its first three years, with 19 killed as of that date, or an average of six journalists killed per year. Two media workers per year were killed in Fidel V. Ramos’ and Joseph Estrada’s term while five per year were killed during Gloria Arroyo’s term.
Teodoro said that impunity is continuing because of, among other reasons, the slow progress of the Ampatuan trial. Bukidnon broadcaster Joash Dignos was killed on November 29 in Bukidnon province, a week after Malacanang said impunity no longer exists, raising the number of journalists and media workers killed during the first three years of the Aquino administration from 19 to 20.
Also in UP-CMC, CMFR tweeted live a round table discussion on the culture of impunity and the progress of the trial. The discussion was led by Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists counsel Prima Quinsayas and Teodoro, both of whom fielded questions from ethics students and Twitter users.
Since the first hearing in Jan. 5, 2010, the Ampatuan Massacre trial has been mired in legal technicalities, among them numerous petitions for bail and for the judge to recuse herself. Only 104 suspects have been arraigned out of the 197 persons accused, eight of whom are from the Ampatuan clan. Eighty-nine (89) suspects are still at large.
La Rue video by Kathryn Roja Raymundo. Story and MOS video by CMFR interns Zharmaine Anne A. Ramos and Yvessa S. Cueto.