Erratum: Our apologies for the story Fight vs impunity must end – NUJP-Davao published last November 24, 2016. A part of the story should have been: “UP professor Danilo Arao pointed out that Ampatuan massacre is NOT an isolated incident, saying the bloodiest election-related incident should not be treated separately from the issue of human rights.”
DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Updated as of 1:13 pm November 29, 2016) —Keep the flame burning and fight against impunity and journalist killings.
This was the rallying call of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines Davao City Chapter as the group commemorated Wednesday the seventh year of the Ampatuan Massacre.
“Today, we 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,” NUJP’s officer Maria Cecilia Badian said in a statement during Wednesday’s evening candle lighting ceremony at the city’s Freedom Park in front of the Ateneo de Davao University.
Select members of the Davao media, human rights and advocacy groups have joined the activity, urging the government to speedily act the cases so that justice will be served to the 58 people brutally killed on Nov. 23, 2009, exactly seven years ago today.
NUJP scored the snail-paced movement of the case and the slow grind of justice as it claimed that the “victims’ families are increasingly losing hope to win in the protracted legal battle.
It said in Davao region alone, the same legal predicament impedes the cases of Rogie Zagado, Cesar Maglalang, and Leo Palo in Davao City; and Nestor Bedolido and Armando Pace in Digos City.
The same is true to the killing of Gregorio Ybañez, Noel Miranda, and Rogelio Butalid in Tagum City whose killing in the recent history remained unresolved, the masterminds and the perpetrators still at large.
“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,” Badian said.
While the group called out the backward judicial system in the country, NUJP also warned the rise into power of the Ampatuans and Marcoses. “Just as they have managed to regain foothold in their political strongholds and maintain their wealth, so to has the hated Marcoses rehabilitated themselves to the national stage,” it said.
For University of the Philippines Professor Danny Arao, seven years after the Ampatuan massacre, no concrete reforms have been implemented in terms of protecting the rights of the journalists and dissenters in the country.
The UP professor pointed out that Ampatuan massacre is not an isolated incident, saying the bloodiest election-related incident should not be treated separately from the issue of human rights.
“Human rights are still violated. The continued spate of media killings is a reflection of a social injustice to the human rights victims in general, especially to the journalists, activists, lawyers, teachers, prosecutors, and judges who were abused, harassed and demonized by those in authority,” he said.
Arao has challenged the youth “to continue campaigning to end the culture of impunity in the country.” He also lambasted President Rodrigo Duterte’s criticism against the media.
Duterte should also be called out for his limited knowledge on journalism especially the theoretical, empirical and normative aspects of the profession,” he said. “We should not believe his line of argument that journalists are killed because they are corrupt.”
Meanwhile, Dabet Panelo, NUJP’s secretary general, noted that there is a resurgence of threats and assaults on the independent Philippine press.
Panelo said these assaults and threats hurled against the country’s Fourth Estate are “fueled by the open contempt and hostility of a leader who would brook absolutely no criticism of his person or his policies, not even if these have opened the floodgates to an orgy of bloodletting unprecedented in its savagery and its utter disregard for the rule of law and human rights.
Seven years after Ampatuan, we fear that the worst is yet to come and the seekers of truth will be faced with ever more danger from those who see our work as anathema to their pursuit of an order built not on compassion but brute force, not on the realities we all face but the distorted picture they would force us to accept,” she added. (davaotoday.com)