US think tank: Massacre victims' kin need counseling


Posted at Feb 11 2011 04:36 PM | Updated as of Feb 12 2011 09:30 AM

MANILA, Philippines - A United States-based think tank believes the Philippine government should grant psychosocial help to families of the 57 victims of Nov. 23, 2009 Maguindanao massacre.

In a statement, the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Public Policy Analysis said the brutal murder of 57 people, including 32 journalists, in Mindanao, in November 2009  "is an act of political violence and factional rivalry, that continues to shock the world community and societies around the globe that value press freedom."

“As the trial goes forward, we urge the Philippine government and Quezon City Court to act responsibly toward the surviving family members that have been severely traumatized as a result of the massacre and gross human rights violations,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis.

The Center for Public Policy Analysis is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank and public policy research organization focused on international relations, human rights, refugee and security issues. The center previously raised concerns about the Maguindanao massacre as well as the overall crisis situation in Mindanao.

Smith said families of the victims should be given psychosocial help, pointing out the recent courtroom collapse of Myrna Reblando, wife of murdered Manila Bulletin journalist Bong Reblando, during the trial.

“The recent courtroom collapse of Myrna Reblando, wife of the murdered Manila Bulletin journalist Bong Reblando, is but one example of why the surviving family members need the Philippine government’s emergency help in providing psychosocial help, especially during this important trial that is being watched by the international community,” he said.

Relatives of the Maguindanao massacre victims earlier filed a motion before a Quezon City court to order the government to give them psychosocial support to counter the trauma brought on by the ongoing trial.

It cited the case of Reblando who shouted expletives at one of the defense lawyers of the Ampatuans after he allegedly claimed that the massacre victims shot each other.