By: Emme Rose Santiagudo and Glazyl Y. Masculino
John Aubrey Jamero, a 2nd year student of the College of Mass Communication of West Visayas State University (WVSU), admitted he was too young to fully understand the Maguindanao massacre on Nov 23, 2009.
“During that time when the massacre happened, all of us students were too young to fully understand what really happened. Being too young, we do not fully understand the impacts of the massacre for our future generations,” Jamero said during the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Ampatuan massacre Saturday at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol.
Jamero and other college students from WVSU and University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) joined the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) Iloilo chapter and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Region 6 in calling for justice for the massacre victims.
The Ampatuan massacre claimed the lives of 58 persons, including 32 media workers. They were gunned down and buried in mass graves in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao province.
NUJP National Director Nestor Burgos Jr. said the massacre is considered the worst and deadliest single attack against journalists in the world and the worst election-related violence in the country.
“The tragic event debunked our beliefs in safety. Before, we thought it would be safer to travel in groups or in daylight but with what happened, we realized that safety is not guaranteed with our profession. After what happened, we started doing safety trainings and lectures for journalists,” Burgos told the students.
Students, members of NUJP, and other private groups commemorated the anniversary through a candle lighting ceremony.
At exactly 11:23 a.m., the participants offered silent prayers and 58 seconds of silence for the 58 victims.
Radio stations in Iloilo also joined the commemoration through 58 seconds of dead air.
CHR-6 Information Officer Christopher Montano underscored the importance of remembering the tragic Ampatuan massacre to remind the people of their rights and make them aware that continuing injustices should be stopped.
“The CHR partners with this initiative because the vision of the CHR which is a just and human society of persons equal in opportunity, living a life of dignity and forever vigilant against abuses and oppression is the vision of each of us and particularly our young citizens,” he stressed.
Montano said what happened ten years ago where justice has not yet been served until now is a strong warning for the citizens that there are still continued violations happening today.
“It’s now getting more and more alarming. There are continued violations happening today. We may say what happened in Maguindanao, will not happen here but what about the rights of people out there, those who were victims of extrajudicial killings (EJK), children whose rights were violated by their parents, women whose rights were violated by their partners in their intimate relationships. These are still reminders that there are still no guarantees that the rights of each of us will not be violated,” he stressed.
Hence, Montano said now in these challenging times that the public especially the young citizens should remain vigilant, watchful, and sensitive to the issues happening in the society.
“Kita mismo must be vigilant. We should never allow even for a single moment nga mabatyagan ta nga ang aton rights ginviolate nga maghipos lang kita. Kinanglan watchful kita, vigilant kita, kag sensitibo kita sa mga nagakalatabo nga issue. We cannot remain complacent,” he furthered.
At the end of the program, Jamero said he hopes to help by letting the future generations be aware of the implications and effects of the Ampatuan massacre.
“We understand that media practitioners are risking their lives to serve the interest of the many, and in seeking the truth. With this, we call for the government to end the violence against the journalists. Through this commemoration, we would be able to let our future generations not just to be aware of the past but to be vigilant in whatever instances,” he said.
In BACOLOD City – Local media practitioners here called on the public and their colleagues to be vigilant as the verdict on the Maguindanao massacre nears.
Officers and members of the Negros Press Club (NPC) and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)-Bacolod chapter gathered last Friday to mark the 10th year of the Maguindanao massacre that killed 58 people, including 32 journalists on November 23, 2009.
A tribute dubbed #FightFor58 was held at the NPC building here, followed by a candle lighting rite at the Marker for Fallen Journalists at the public plaza, where they also offered prayers for the victims.
NUJP-Bacolod chairperson Marchel Espina stressed that the next few weeks will be critical as the promulgation of judgment is expected to be handed down on or before December 20.
“We call on our colleagues and the Filipino people to be vigilant as we demand true justice for this grisly massacre. We are hoping that justice be finally served,” the groups said in a joint statement.
They said a decade has passed, and their pursuit for justice on the deadliest attack against journalists and the worst election-related violence in the country continues.
”Until now, no conviction has been handed down against the mastermind of the brutal massacre, the powerful Ampatuan clan. We demand our government to bring the perpetrators to justice,” the groups said.
Meanwhile, Andrea Jayme, sister of human rights lawyer Connie Jayme-Brizuela who died in the massacre, is hoping the government will ensure the safety of the judge and that the decision will be favorable to them.
She also appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte and Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra to help in expediting the resolution of the case.