In Cotabato, Davao, groups score state of impunity from Arroyo to Aquino
Protesters here are not only calling for justice for the victims of the Ampatuan massacre. They said that impunity continues from Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s reign to Noynoy Aquino with the increasing cases of rights abuses and growing numbers of rights victims.
By DANILDA L. FUSILERO
KIDAPAWAN CITY, Cotabato, Philippines — About a hundred media workers and sectoral groups in black held a mock funeral and candle lighting here Friday to signify their rage and call for justice to commemorate the third year anniversary of the Ampatuan massacre that killed 58 people including lawyers, women and media workers.
In Davao City, hundreds of human rights advocates and media practitioners led by the Alliance against Impunity in Mindanao (AIM) held a march-rally at the Centennial Park and later at the Freedom Park. Earlier, they picketed the AFP’s Eastern Mindanao Command headquarters to condemn the military’s “atrocities” and the spate of extrajudicial killings.
At the Freedom Park, a photo exhibit was mounted. Myrna Reblando, widow of victim Bong Reblando, also delivered a short message via live stream.
“Masyadong mabagal ang itinakbo ng kaso at ang dami pang mga akusado na di pa nahuhuli,” said Malu Cadeliña-Manar of the National Union of Journalist (NUJP) in the Philippines-Kidapawan chapter. Manar added, the massacre was an attack on the people’s right to information.
Makabayan Coalition’s Ruby Padilla-Sison who’s also a host-anchor of the Ladies Buffet, a women-oriented radio program aired over a local station, also lambasted the government’s judicial system which she described as “too slow” in finding justice for the victims.
For his part, Jessie Casalda, chair of the NUJP-Davao said: “The factors that led to the 2009 Ampatuan massacre are still ever present: warlordism, the existence of private armies, a weak judicial system and the repressive policies of the government against the media and the people.”
Casalda criticized Aquino because instead of strengthening the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the press and expression, he keeps on lambasting his critics while at the same time suppressing media freedom and the people’s right to information.
He scored the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 while lamented the pro-media bills, which he said, “gather dust in Congress,” such as the Freedom of Information and Decriminalization of Libel.
The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) in Kidapawan, an organization of student journalists, also expressed disappointment over the outcome of the Ampatuan trial.
“We want justice to be served and yet the case is slowly-grinding. We wanted to be professional journalists too, but this case saddened us,” said Doewee Hofelania, CEGP chair.
“Kung ganito ng ganito ay wala tayong pwedeng asahan sa judiciary at ito ay nagpapahiwatig na patay na ang hustisya sa bansa natin,” Abdulrahman Malabana of the Kabataan Partylist told davaotoday.com.
He said, the Aquino government “lacks the political will” to push the case against all suspects.
Protesters here are not only calling for justice for the victims of the Ampatuan massacre. They said that impunity continues from Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s reign to Noynoy Aquino with the increasing cases of rights abuses and growing number of victims.
They also called for justice for all the victims of extrajudicial killings like the Capion family in Tampakan, South Cotabato; farmer-leader Ramon Batoy and Italian priest Fr. Fausto Tentorio in Arakan, Cotabato Provincel and the killings of lumad leaders in nearby San Fernando, Bukidnon.
Sister Noemi Degala of the Sisters Missionary in Mindanao, convener of the AIM, said the impunity in the Philippines “is a deeply entrenched system.”
She said, by simple legislative measures, the system of impunity can be deconstructed, such as “the repeal of EO 546 and the passage of the Freedom of Information Act.”
Meanwhile, in General Santos City, the Justice Now Movement symbolized their call for justice through six makeshift coffins.
In Luzon, progressive lumad organizations Katribu and Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas held a “tuyada,” an indigenous ritual condemning the unabated killings of indigenous peoples and the continued prevalence of the culture of impunity, infront of Pres. Aquino’s residence in Times Street, Quezon City.
In a statement, Katribu’s secretary-general Francesca Tolentino said that of the total 114 documented cases of extrajudicial killings under the Aquino administration, 32 were indigenous peoples.
“This clearly highlights the utter failure of the Aquino administration to stop the wanton killings and the culture of impunity despite its avowed Daang Matuwid mantra,” Tolentino said. (Danilda L. Fusilero/davaotoday.com)