Seven years hence, still no justice

11.23.09. These numbers marked the date when 58 were killed, including 32 media workers, atop the hill of Sitio Masalay, Brgy. Salman, Ampatuan town, Maguindanao. The convoy was enroute to file the gubernatorial candidacy of Esmael Mangudadatu in Sultan Kudarat on Nov. 23, 2009.

But seven years after the gruesome killings, justice remain elusive for the victims of the Maguindanao massacre.According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)-Davao Chapter, despite efforts to continuously remind the national government to finally make the perpetrators liable on the incident, the case has not prospered.

“We hope that this will not be buried in oblivion,” said Times’ reporter Ma. Cecilia G. Badian, acting chair of NUJP Davao Chapter.

Badian said this should be prioritized by the current administration. “It has been seven years now but justice is not still served. We also observed that the Ampatuans are back again in power,” she said.

Photos by Bing Gonzales

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The Ampatuan clan was accused to be behind the killings.

Though there is no development yet on the case, about 30 journalists and members of Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao gathered at the Freedom Park to strengthen the battle cry in ending the years of elusive justice for the victims of Maguindanao massacre.

“(W)e feel the continuing grief and outrage because justice remains elusive to the victims, especially to the 32 journalists who were mercilessly killed in a single day, the biggest number in our history. The victims’ families are increasingly losing hope to win in the protracted legal battle,” the statement of NUJP Davao Chapter said.

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THE HEADSTONE of Bong Reblando, reporter of Manila Bulletin, who was among those killed that fateful day. Bong was based in General Santos City and used to attend trainings organized by Mindanews. Photo by ABC

The slow grind of justice also impedes on the cases of other slain journalists such as Rogie Zagado, Cesar Maglalang, Leo Paolo, Nestor Bedolido, Armando Pace, Gregorio Ybañez, Noel Miranda and Rogelio Butalid.

“This depressing state of the judicial system, the slow grind of justice, the continued harassment and attacks against the media—all these fuels the culture of impunity in the country. The government itself has failed its sacred duty to protect the members of the Fourth Estate,” NUJP Davao Chapter said.

The current administration affirmed that there is, indeed, a turtle-paced grind of judicial process.

“Seven years after the gruesome massacre happened in 2009, justice remains elusive to the victims and to their loved ones,” cited the statement from the office of Communication Secretary Martin Andanar.

ronnie-perante-jr

RONNIE Perante Jr was in Grade 2 when his father Ronnie Sr., reporter of Goldstar Daily, was slain in the massacre. Now in his junior year in High School, he continues to long for justice. Photo by ABC

“The nation thus feels a sense of outrage by the turtle-paced grind of the judicial process,” it added.

Media workers and other sectors of the society vowed to continuously call for justice and keep the fight against the culture of impunity. This is also the same in unceasingly calling against the burial of President Ferdinand Marcos in Libingan ng mga Bayani.

The resuscitation of Marcos as national hero, NUJP Davao Chapter said, “is a travesty of the struggle and the continuing perseverance of media to cherish its independence and protect its basic freedom.”

“As we remember the seventh year of the Ampatuan massacre, we call for justice for our colleagues who were silenced when they spoke against the oppressors.We also call to keep the flame burning and fight against impunity and journalist killings. To cease is to betray the memory of those who died while in the line of duty,” NUJP Davao Chapter said.

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