Tuesday, 23 November 2010 12:05
Local journalists and some organizations here will join today in the commemoration of the first anniversary of the infamous November 23, 2009 Maguindanao massacre in Central Mindanao.
At least 57 persons, including 34 journalists, died in the massacre whose masterminds and perpetrators have eluded punishment one year after the grisly crime that shocked the country and the world.
The alleged masterminds of the massacre come from the powerful Ampatuan clan which has long dominated politics in Maguindanao and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. Clan leaders and members are widely known supporters of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Journalists worlwide described the massacre as the single deadliest attack on journalists. It helped the Philippines knock out Iraq as the world’s most dangerous place for working journalists.
In line with the 1st first anniversary of Maguindanao massacre, members of the Zamboanga Press Club Inc. (ZPCI) and the National Union Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) ZamBaSulTa chapter will offer a mass today at St. Joseph Church at Nuñez St. around 12:15 p.m.
Julie Alipala, who writes for Philippine Daily Inquirer and head of the NUJP ZamBaSulTa chapter, enjoins the Zamboanga-based journalists to wear black shirt, black ribbon or armed ban as a show sympathy to the families of the Maguindanao massacre victims, who until now cry for justice.
It was learned from the ZPCI secretary Analy Soberano that after the mass at St. Joseph Church, the local journalists will be releasing white ballons.
Last week, the NUJP started the commemorative activities with a call to “never forget” what happened and urged the Aquino government to help petition the court to allow live coverage of the trial of all the accused in the massacre.
President Benigno Aquino III has said he supports the journalists’ call for live coverage of the court proceedings. But Malacañang has not announced any official commemoration of the massacre.
In Cebu, journalists are set to gather today for a conference titled “Journalists in the Line of Fire: A Conference on Protecting the Messenger through Media and Multi-Sector Engagement” under the auspices of the International News Safety Institute (INSI), Center for Community Journalism and Development (CCJD) and the Peace and Conflict Journalism Network (PECOJON).
The conference is also set to come out with a “Cebu Declaration: A Call to Action for the Protection of Journalists in the Philippines”, which organizers say “would outline 11 general points for working together to ensure the safety of journalists and media staff”.
Another press group, the National Press Club (NPC), will stage a “mock trial” in Manila, using evidence used in the trial, to render an independent verdict on the accused persons.
A statement from the NPC says that after the “mock trial” promulgates its verdict, they will burn an effigy of a backhoe – which was used by perpetrators to hurriedly bury the massacre victims – outside the organization’s headquarters.
By Hader Glang
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