Nov. 23 2016,10:01 p.m. – MEDIA organizations staged a protest march on Nov. 23 to mark the seventh anniversary of the Maguindanao Massacre, which took the lives of 58 people, including 32 journalists.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) and heads of different student publications in the university belt marched from Morayta to Mendiola, calling for justice for the victims of the massacre.

University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication professor Danilo Arao expressed dismay over the slow progress of the case against the suspects led by the Ampatuan family.

Arao said the culture of impunity “is still very much evident with the extrajudicial killings that is happening in the nation in the campaign to end the [use] of illegal drugs.”

“Dapat natin siguraduhin `yung hustisya hindi lamang sa [biktima ng] Ampatuan massacre kung hindi pati sa ibang biktima ng pamamaslang. The number (of victims) should be an indication that the government should muster enough political will to ensure that justice will really be served,” Arao said in an interview with the Varsitarian.

Arao urged President Rodrigo Duterte to translate his popularity among the majority of Filipinos to political will “so that we expedite the process of conviction for the persons responsible for the killings.”

In a statement, the CEGP said justice remained elusive for the victims of the “single deadliest attack against the media on record.”

“Delivering the truth and exposing realities are part of a journalist’s job description. And as long as the Filipino people are marginalized and oppressed by the ruling system, journalists will always be under constant threats of intimidation and harassment,” the statement read.

Considered as the worst election-related violence in Maguindanao, the massacre took place when the supporters and family members of now Maguindanao governor Esmael Mangudadatu were on their way to file the latter’s certificate of candidacy and challenge the ruling Ampatuan clan.

At least 100 gunmen ambushed and killed Mangudadatu’s relatives including his wife, and journalists.

A total of 106 out of the 197 accused have been arraigned since the Ampatuan trial began in January 2010. Of the 197, 15 came from the Ampatuan family. Christian de Lano M. Deiparine


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