Maguindanao carnage strikes at the very foundations of democracy

Nov. 24, 2009

23 November 2009
Press Statement

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) demands justice for our colleagues and all the other victims of the November 23 carnage in Maguindanao province.

The Ampatuan massacre, which the military has confirmed was perpetrated by Shariff Aguak Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. and police Sr. Inspector Dicay, goes beyond the issue of freedom of the press and of expression and strikes at the very foundations of democracy.

Aside from the wife, relatives and supporters of Ismail Mangudadatu, who were on their way to file his certificate of candidacy to run as governor of Maguindanao, the slaughter also claimed the lives of at least 12 colleagues, according to reports from our chapters in Mindanao.

This incident not only erases all doubts about the Philippines being the most dangerous country for journalists in the world, outside of Iraq, it could very well place the country on the map as a candidate for a failed democracy.

Running for office and voting are as much exercises of free will and expression as covering and reporting the news.

We expect nothing less from this government than the swift apprehension and punishment of everyone involved in this gruesome assault on the national body politic, including the masterminds, regardless of who they might be.

Anything less would mean that the impunity that has emboldened those who would silence the press, staining this administration with the worst record of murdered journalists, has spread to embolden those who would subvert our democracy for their own selfish interests. #

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