'Fight for 58' cry echoes at Maguindanao massacre 13th annual commemoration protests

Anjo Bagaoisan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 23 2022 10:59 PM

Candles spelling out “Justice” are lighted at UP Diliman to remember the victims of the Maguindano massacre.
Candles spelling out “Justice” are lighted at UP Diliman to remember the victims of the Maguindano massacre.

MANILA — Protests on Wednesday marking the 13th year since the 2009 Maguindanao massacre called for the recognition of photojournalist Reynaldo Momay as one of the victims in the multiple slay.

“Fight for 58” became the slogan of mobilizations such as that in the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City, which was led by student journalists and organizations.

The court that ruled on the massacre case excluded Momay as the 58th person killed because only his dentures and not his body were recovered from the site in Ampatuan town.

Momay’s name and that of the 31 other media workers who died in the massacre were written on red ribbons and hung at a banner after the protest.

Candles lit by the participants spelled out the word “Justice”.

Dominique Flores, chairperson of the student org Union of Journalists of the Philippines - UP Diliman, one of the organizers said it was important to remember the Maguindanao massacre even by young Filipinos like her who had not come of age then.

The killings were dubbed the deadliest incident for journalists in the world and the worst case of election-related violence in the country.

“Inaaral po namin itong karanasan, ‘yong kasaysayan ng mga mamamahayag at lahat ng pagpaslang at pag-atake na nangyayari sa kanila ay mas namumulat kami. At nalalaman namin kung ano ang magiging kinabukasan naming mga student journalists paglabas namin ng college,” Flores said.

She added it was important for students like them to also unite with professionals and other sectors to stand against other attacks on media.

Other student leaders challenged their fellow youth to get more of them to be aware and speak out on issues such as press freedom.

Staff of campus publications also decried efforts to curtail the campus press.

Len Olea, secretary general of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, commended the students for organizing the event.

“Nagpapasalamat ang mga pamilya sa patuloy na suporta ng maraming indibidwal at organisasyon at natitiyak natin sa kabila nito, matutuwa silang makita na ang mga kabataan natin ngayon, 13 taon na ang nakararaan…Natutuwa tayo na ang aksyong ito ay pinangunahan ng mga kabataan,” Olea said.

Thirteen years since the massacre, families of the victims say they have only received partial justice for the killings, with the 44 convictions under appeal and a single cent in damages yet to be paid them.

Former lawmaker Carlos Zarate of the Makabayan coalition, called to scrap an executive order still in force allowing local officials to form private security forces. 

“Ang Ampatuan massacre since 2009 is emblematic of the state of impunity na nag-aamok sa ating bansa hanggang ngayon,” he said.

Journalists and supporters across the Philippines also marked the anniversary through fora, candle lighting, and protest actions.

Relatives in Mindanao visited the graves of the victims, with the children this time leading the commemorations.

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