LOS ANGELES, California - Days before the third anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre, the Filipino community in Los Angeles came together to remember the tragedy that left 32 journalists and 26 other people dead.
“We hold this commemoration and this event to remind that the government of the Philippines that it is their responsibility to give justice to all the victims of the massacre and human rights violation,” said Art Garcia, director of the Filipno-American Community of Los Angeles.
A poetry reading, art exhibit, music, and prayers were dedicated to all the victims of what is now known as the worst political-related violence in the Philippines.
“I think the important thing is to keep the whole event alive in the consciousness of the masses. We should never forget because it's so easy to forget once we set it aside,” said actor and journalist, Bernardo Bernardo.
Organized by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines in the US, several guest speakers participated including Deputy House Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III, who also discussed the controversial Freedom of Information Bill, the piece of legislation that would allow for a more transparent government.
“We feel that the Filipino community can convince their relatives in the Philippines to campaign for the freedom of information. To write to their congressman and senators that they want this bill passed,” said Tañada.
Tañada, a proponent of the bill, said he remains optimistic that it will be passed by the Philippine Congress and has found support from members Filipino-American community.
“Ako, as a journalist, I will do education work. Talagang massive education kasi pag malakas ang campaign ng mga mamamayang Pilipino, kahit yung Congress na aayaw-ayaw, yung tinatawag nating people's power or public pressure,” said journalist Soukie Paulin.
Garcia added, “The Freedom of Information Act has been enforced in the United States for 40 years. I believe, if we have to copy from the United States, it should be the better and the best”.