57th month of Ampatuan massacre | Calls for justice persist

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MANILA – Journalists, Church people and members of civil society groups came together, August 23 to mark the 57th month of the Ampatuan massacre at the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) grounds, Quezon City.

The gathering started with an ecumenical prayer led by Rev. Juliet Solis of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP). Solis joined the fact-finding mission in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao immediately after the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre that claimed the lives of 58 individuals.

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Sonny Fernandez, one of the directors of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said the integrity of the prosecution is now under question due to allegations of bribery. He called on everyone to remain vigilant so that justice would be served to the victims.

In a solidarity message read by Mervin Toquero, the NCCP said the Ampatuan massacre is a grim reminder of the prevailing culture of impunity. NCCP chairman Ephraim Fajutagana and general secretary Rev. Rex Reyes said they were indignant at the lack of political will of the Aquino administration to resolve the case.

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In the same vein, Malou Mangahas, executive director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), said the Aquino administration does not seem keen on improving its score on human rights indexes. Mangahas said the Aquino administration must prosecute suspects and masterminds of media murders.

Edith Tiamzon, wife of one of the 32 journalists slain in the massacre, led the lighting of candles for the 58 victims.

Representatives from the NUJP-NCR, Philippine Center for Philippine Journalism, Center for Community Journalism and Development, Bulatlat.com and Pinoy Media Center attended the gathering. They were joined by members of the NCCP, Promotion of Church People’s Response, Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, Kalipunan ng Kristiyanong Kabataan sa Pilipinas and Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas.

Text and photos by RONALYN V. OLEA

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