A hundred days have passed since the massacre of 32 journalists and media workers in Maguindanao, Southern Philippines, together with 26 others. The principal suspect has been indicted. But the petition for bail of the alleged mastermind has been the subject of several postponements, in a portent of things to come that’s not encouraging for the demand for justice for the victims.
The urgent demand for justice is in danger of foundering on the shoals of the technicalities that-together with police collusion at the local levels in the killing of journalists, overworked prosecutors who fear for their safety, and the involvement of local officials and warlords-constitute the many weaknesses of the Philippine justice system. Equally distressing is the information, relayed by one of the private lawyers helping prosecute the case, that witnesses are being bought if not threatened, and that relatives are being offered amounts that few mortals in the Philippine community setting can refuse in exchange for withdrawing their complaints. Continue reading