13 years on, NUJP says forgetting Maguindanao massacre 'still not an option'

Rowegie Abanto, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 23 2022 04:44 PM

Weeds have grown around the memorial markers for the victims of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao del Sur. NUJP photo
Weeds have grown around the memorial markers for the victims of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao del Sur. NUJP photo

MANILA — The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Wednesday said "forgetting is still not an option" as it marked the 13th year since the bloody murder of Filipino journalists in Maguindanao — considered the worst incident of political violence in the Philippines.

"We mark today the 13th year since the Ampatuan Massacre — the deadliest attack on journalists in the world," the NUJP said in a statement.

The NUJP noted that while a trial court in 2019 handed families of the victims "partial justice" and convicted members of the Ampatuan clan and many others of multiple murders in the massacre, masterminds Datu Andal Jr. and Zaldy Ampatuan brought the decision to the Court of Appeals —signifying that the families of victims would have to wait longer to attain complete justice.

"While this is within their right and is part of court processes," the NUJP said, "this also means the families face a longer wait for full justice as well as for compensation for the loved ones they lost on November 23, 2009."

Citing the Office of the Press Secretary, the NUJP said an appeal by prosecutors has led to the conviction of another accessory, bringing the number of convicted to 44.

The NUJP, however, said that 83 of the accused in the massacre remain at large.

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It also reiterated its longstanding call to recognize that there were 58 victims, including 34 journalists and media workers, in the massacre.

"[T]he trial should include the murder of Reynaldo Momay, whose dentures were found at the massacre site and who was confirmed to have joined the coverage on November 23, 2009," the NUJP said.

"The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines joins them and the journalism community in this call. We offer them our solidarity and support and the commitment to continue following up and reporting on the case until the families get the full justice that they deserve," it added.

Days after the slay of broadcaster Percival "Percy Lapid" Mabasa in Las Piñas City, said to be the second killing of a journalist under the current administration, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said his government will "support and protect the rights of the media."

The president's administration, the NUJP noted, also recently committed that it will "not forget this heinous crime and hope, along with the families, that full justice will not take another 13 years."

"As the Justice Now families have stressed, forgetting is not an option for us," the NUJP said.

A report from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) earlier this month revealed that the Philippines remained the 7th worst country where killers of journalists get away with murder.

This is the Philippines' 15th year in the index, where the nation was ranked together with Somalia, Syria, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Mexico, Myanmar, Brazil, Pakistan, and India.

"While we are saddened and enraged that the culture of impunity on attacks against journalists continues to reign, we take solace in the solidarity among our ranks and with other press freedom advocates," the journalists' group said. 

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