Our people truly have this incurable tendency to forget.
The horrendous massacre that killed 57 people, 32 of them journalists, last year in Mindanao is nearing its first year mark. Nearly a year after its occurrence, justice for the victims remain out of hand. This scenario is already verging on being an utter farce as the evidences that can help in resolving the case have already been substantial. For one, an Ampatuan residence has been discovered to be a massive storage of high-class ammunitions and other weapons. This discovery is already very telling. What should be the viable reason for the existence of such number of complex weapons in the house of a person? The invisible link is drawn by the implication that the Ampatuans’ “fetish” over complicated weapons answers why he is the primary suspect in the case. To put it more bluntly, it confirms the possibility that he is the mastermind behind the heinous perpetration.
Lest we have forgotten as well, Ishmael Mangudadatu, the biggest personality in that group of people involved in the brutal carnage last year, was about to file his certificate of candidacy for the 2010 elections when the massacre occured. After a long time, someone has dared to challenge the rule of the Ampatuans in Datu Unsay, Maguindanao. However, Mangudadatu, along with his entourage that includes a handful of media practitioners, has fall prey to the voracious predator that is electoral violence and the thirst for power.
As this incident emphasizes the condition of mainstream journalism in the country, a condition marked by repression and stifled expression, we are again reminded that their plight is not isolated from the plight of campus journalists in the country. Campus press freedom violations are still marked inside Cordillera campuses. Funds are being withheld, articles are being censored, students’ opinions and views are being filtered, and progressive student journalists are being terrorized or harassed. All of these actions by the school administration are not different from what the government is doing to the mainstream journalists. These are all in line with their intention to keep the media men from exposing the things that are actually happening in the society and which the people must know about. With the people not informed or misinformed, they will also be kept from knowing what their government is doing and what is actually happening in the country.
As we recall the nightmare of journalistic practice in the Philippines that is the Maguindanao massacre, the College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines is reiterating its condemnation of the notorious incident. More importantly, we are even firmer in calling for the justice for all of the slain individuals and their bereft loved ones.
We are challenging and calling on the present administration of Benigno Aquino III to make the Ampatuans pay for the violent crime they have committed not only against the 57 people mercilessly murdered but also to the entire Filipino people. The seeds of violence they have sown only prove that those who are in power can thoughtlessly resort to violent means just to sustain their hold of power.
And lastly, unless social justice is founded, this culture of impunity and terror will continue.
College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines Baguio-Benguet Chapter