MANILA, Philippines – The families of journalists killed in the carnage now known as the Ampatuan massacre want corrections to be made on a marker erected in memory of those who perished in the November 23 attack in Maguindanao.
Rowena Paraan of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said the marker was already there when they held the commemoration of the first year of the Ampatuan massacre.
“Yung families, gusto talaga nilang maglagay ng memorial doon sa site. Kaya lang, when we went there nung first anniversary, may marker na naitayo si Gov. (Esmael) Mangudadatu which is okay. Lagyan mo ng marker tapos nandoon yung mga pangalan,” said Paraan.
Wrong, missing, misspelled names
However, the marker was apparently done in haste as several mistakes were found in the names on the list.
“Even the list of names, hindi siya kumpleto. So yung buong 58, hindi siya doon kumpleto, may mga kulang,” said Paraan.
They also noted that some of the names on list were misspelled and others were jumbled up.
“Yung sa names ng mga nandoon may mali-mali. May nagkapalit ng first name, may maling spelling--so parang para sa kanila ang sakit-sakit din nun. Wala yung pangalan nung asawa o kaya mali yung spelling,” she said.
She said the families have been trying to set up a meeting with the governor in the hopes of correcting the marker.
“Kinukumpleto din namin yung pangalan kasi malay mo hindi lang yung sa media families yung mali-mali. So inaayos din namin pati yung ibang names kasi hindi din fair, dapat lahat talaga maayos,” she said.
Worse, the marker also listed 4 unidentified students of the Notre Dame University.
“Tapos may nasingit pa doon na mga estudyante ng Norte Dame. Parang, Hello bakit meron siya nun? Lahat kami nagtatanong. Sino ito? Bakit sila nandito? Doon din ba sila pinatay? Wala din makapagpaliwanag. Medyo weird."
Paraan said the marker should be corrected as a way of respecting those who were killed there. A simple information of what happened in the area on November 23 and what the marker is about should also be provided.
“As a way of respecting yung namatay at saka sa pagkilala sa nangyari sa kanila, itama mo. Kaya lang, that was already almost a year ago, hindi pa din nai-correct. Ang gusto ng mga pamilya palitan yung marker,” she said.
Press freedom memorial
Aside from correcting the marker, the victims’ families also want a press freedom memorial at the site where the 58 people were killed.
“Not to say na mas special sila than the others who were killed, pero because may impact talaga siya sa Philippine journalism so kailangang i-recognize talaga yung isyu na yan,” Paraan said.
They also plan to meet with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to get the agency’s support for the memorial project.