“It is our way of keeping the fight for justice alive, as well as condemning all violations of human rights. And hopefully, before all our candles run out, justice would be given to all victims.”
By ALYSSA MAE CLARIN
MANILA– Journalists were joined by workers, and artists as they held the monthly commemoration of the Ampatuan Massacre at Liwasang Diokno inside the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) compound in Quezon City, May 23.
Less than six months from now, the Ampatuan Massacre, one of the single most deadliest attack on media, would be reaching its tenth year with no clear justice given to the victims and their families.
Raymund Villanueva, deputy secretary general of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), recounted how the incident had brought the Philippines to the limelight worldwide.
“That day, on November 23, 2009, [the massacre] was considered as one of the worst case of attacks on media around the world,” he said. The 2009 incident was by far one of the worst cases, with 32 journalists dead in a single night.
According to a study conducted by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) last year, the Philippines is among the seven countries in Southeast Asia dubbed as the worst places for journalists because of the looming threats of impunity, intimidation, safety, and censorship.
What’s even more infuriating, according to Villanueva, was the fact that even after almost ten years, families of the victims are still fighting for justice, while some of more than half of the suspects remain at large and out of prison bars.
“You can even see some of the primary suspects attending weddings, and family gatherings,” Villanueva noted pertaining about how primary accused, Zaldy Ampatuan, was able to temporarily leave jail to attend his daughter’s wedding reception last August 21 2018.
“The fight for justice has been way too long,” added Villanueva. He said that if the government can’t provide justice to a case as big as the Ampatuan Massacre, how much more with the killings of farmers in the provinces.
The short event ended with a candle lighting event where media members were joined by workers from Mindanao and youth artists from Panday Sining.
The NUJP, since November 23, 2018, has been doing a monthly commemoration of the massacre. Villanueva said, “It is our way of keeping the fight for justice alive, as well as condemning all violations of human rights. And hopefully, before all our candles run out, justice would be given to all victims.”