official publication of the UP Journalism Club
November 23, 2012
timeline of events (2012) compiled by Feona Imperial and Yvette Morales
AN UNDYING CALL. The call for justice is once again resounded as the Maguindanao Massacre reaches its third year. Photo taken last November 2011. / GAVILAN, J.
taking A STAND AGAINST IMPUNITY by Angerica Hainto
THREE years have passed since the infamous Ampatuan Massacre occurred in Maguindanao. A week before November 23, the entire College of Mass Communication (CMC)launched various projects to commemorate the said event. As early as November 15, posters of the statistics of injustice splattered across the CMC lobby. The statistics contain the number of killings and the number of suspects indicted for the crime. The Graduate Studies Association (GSA) spearheaded the exhibit in cooperation with the Union of the Journalists of the PhilippinesUniversity of the Philippines branch (UJP-UP). The National Union of the Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) contributed these materials. The next day, GSA initiated a forum entitled “We Demand Justice”. CMC Dean Roland Tolentino, Deputy Director of Center of Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) Journalism Professor Luis Teodoro, NUJP Secretary General Rowena Carranza-Paraan, and Karapatan Deputy Secretary General Cristina Palabay, shared their thoughts about the massacre as speakers.
On November 18, about 70 people gathered on Sunday morning for the March Against Impunity Pledge Run. The event generated more than P8,000. All the proceeds were added directly to the NUJP Scholarship. The children of those who were killed were the benefactors of the scholarship. Two days before the anniversary of the killings, CMC made headlines with its “Impuni-tree”. The 3-year old Narra tree signifies the continuing growth of impunity in the country. Media groups like CMFR, Center for Community Journalism and Development, Philippine Press Institute, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, and TV5 participated in the event as well. On the day of the anniversary itself, CMC will gather at 1pm to give solidarity speeches about the Maguindanao Massacre before marching around the academic oval. Afterwards, the march will continue in Welcome Rotonda to Mendiola. Rallyists will carry 153 caskets to represent the number of journalists killed after the Martial Law.
January 2: The Court of Appeals dismissed the rebellion charges against the Ampatuan family and their co-accused for lack of probable cause. January 12 Lawyers of Ampatuan family members accused of masterminding the Maguindanao massacre on Wednesday blocked the presentation of evidence reported taken from a cell phone found hidden in one of the victim’s underwear. January 23 The Manila Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld its 18 August 2011 denial of the petition for certiorari filed by a primary accused in the 23 November 2009 Ampatuan massacre. (CMFR) February 6 One of the suspects who also happened to be a state witness for the massacre committed suicide by jumping off the fourth floor of Quezon City Jail Annex. February 7 Police Officer 2 Hernanie Decipulo, the state witness and one of the suspects on the massacre identified Andal Ampatuan Sr. as the leader of the gunmen of the said tragedy. February 9 A Quezon City judge allowed one of the accused in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre to stay in a youth home until he could post an P11-million bail, noting that he was still a minor at the time of the grisly murders. March 20 The Supreme Court (SC) voted today to dismiss the petition versus former President Gloria Arroyo’s declaration of martial law in Maguindanao in 2009 in the aftermath of the Maguindanao massacre. April 18 One more suspect in the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre was arrested by police in Cotabato City on Tuesday, the military said. May 8 Zaldy Ampatuan asks the Supreme Court to drop him from the charge sheet in the Maguindanao massacre case, citing conflicting affidavits of two witnesses who both claimed seeing him at a meeting where the killings were planned – but at different times. TIMELINE/ BACK
SILENCING THE BEAST
THEY say that when scar tissue heals, the skin is stronger. But for the families of the victims of Maguindanao Massacre, this day marks a haunting term that relives painful scars which, for three years, was never healed. Beginning with the inhumane tragedy in 2009, each year was seen as beyond a simple commemoration. It is a mark that another year has passed with the case still battling for closure. Thus, ending a year and beginning another was not just a cause for remembering, but also a saddening realization of what little has been done regarding the matter. The brutal massacre of 58 victims deplorably creates images of injustice—of women who were raped, bodies which are tortured and shattered with bullets, and innocent lives lost to the hands of beasts blinded by power. Human bodies were mercilessly used as instruments to protect and demonstrate this power. Though this horrendous act proves to be beyond the ranks of human thought, it can only serve to remind us of one of the darkest moments in Philippine history. It cannot be banished from our memory. It cannot be reversed.
timeline of events (2012) from page 1 May 31 A prosecution witness in the trial of those accused of the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre was murdered. June 27 Maguindanao Governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu testified against Andal Ampatuan Jr. on the case of Maguindanao Massacre. July 4 A star witness in the Maguindanao massacre positively identified in court two members of the Ampatuan clan and linked them to the killings. July 28 An explosion transpired inside the compound of Datu Salibu town Mayor Akmad Ampatuan past 8 p.m. at Barangay Pob. 1, Shariff Aguak town in the province of Maguindanao. August 19 Day 1,000 since the Ampatuan massacre on November 23, 2009 and still no justice. September 25 The Department of Justice has formally recognized a photojournalist as the 58th victim. October 4 Members of the Ampatuan clan filed their certificates of candidacy in their towns. Data from: www.gmanetwork.com cmfr-phil.org
More than just being an election-related tragedy, the massacre is a clear manifestation that political greed may shatter even the basic freedoms of the press and elections. Indeed, this avarice has proven that men can be driven beyond rational human thought. When Toto Mangudadatu sent his wife and sisters to file his certificate of candidacy together with members of the press, he felt assured that they will be free from imminent hazards. He thought the presence of journalists were enough to shield them from possible harm. But for murderers who seem to have lost the definition of mercy, there are no limits; there are no fears. Former Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr., whose partiarchal clan lords Maguindanao, was immediately pointed out as the mastermind of the massacre. But because the Ampatuans had a strong ally in the face of former president Arroyo, they found a safe haven where they can mask their crime-laden faces and escape conviction. It took 32 lives of media workers for the Philippines to be shamefully listed as the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. And as if this distinction was not enough, the lives of 26 other men and women were ambushed by
about 100 gunmen—a massacre deemed as the worst single political killing in the Philippines. The perpetrators may hide beneath the cloak of wealth and political power, but they can only cling to their protective nets for so long. Though the reality is more than what the figures speak of, the numbers will continue to haunt them; they will continue to scream and call for justice. But with 1,098 days for this quest of justice and truth, how far shall the journey go? Will it take another year of battles, of killings, and of false hopes before the perpetrators will finally be executed? Today, we see a grotesque picture of acquiring justice in a country whose government tolerates rather than combats the culture of violence and impunity. As the Maguindanao Massacre trial continues, families of victims and the witnesses are left with unequal choices of fighting and giving up, as they continue to live in fear—with some of them even threatened and murdered. Real progress should be done now as the last call to save the butchered democracy. There is no more space for waiting games, for cover-ups, for preferential treatments, and for advancing personal interests. Amidst all the gruesome injustices that took place, there is no more room for fear. If power is to side with the truth, those deplorable beasts will learn how to trim their fangs and succumb to silence altogether. Impunity can reign only for so long.
on thoughts and perspectives compiled by Jodesz Gavilan and Ela Vicher
“Slow pace of justice system means prolonged suffering of victims’ families. Impunity thrives under the PNoy administration.” - Rep. Raymond Palatino (Kabataan Partylist) “Ang masaker sa Ampatuan noong Nobyembre 2009 ay sinasalamin ang walang habas na pamamaraan sa paglabag sa mga karapatang pantao sa Pilipinas. Sa konteksto ng pambansa’t lokal na eleksiyon sa Mayo 2013, kinakailangang siguraduhin ng administrasyong Aquino na ang halalan ay magiging mapayapa’t maayos para maiwasan ang pagpatay at iba pang porma ng karahasang may kinalaman sa eleksiyon.” - Excerpt from the statement of the UP College of Mass Communication “Let every Filipino know how the wheels of justice churn for this monumental case.” - Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s statement two years ago, in support of the abolishment of the rules disallowing live coverage of the Massacre by the Supreme Court.
“Mabilisang paglilitis at tamang hatol ang aming kailangan. Kung hindi niyo kayang ibigay ang live coverage, dahil iyon na ang desisyon ng Korte Suprema, bilisan ang paglilitis at hatulan na ang may sala.” -Excerpt from the official statement by Ma. Reynafe Momay-Castillo, daughter of photojournalist and the 58th Maguindanao Massacre victim Reynaldo Momay, regarding the Supreme Court decision disallowing live coverage of the trial. “Justice has become an abstract concept. Or even a fallacy? Or a joke? The government, supposedly protecting its people, has become the strong pillars of culture of impunity. The Aquino government has almost forgotten this massacre- Ampatuans are running again as if they have not committed the worst crime in our recent history. One thing to be sure though, the people never forgets, never. Justice for the victims of the Ampatuan massacre!” - UP Student Regent Cleve Arguelles
Editor-in-chief: Mariejo Ramos Associate Editor: Alex Austria Layout Editor: Eunille Santos Writers and Researchers: Angerica Hainto, Jodesz Gavilan, Ela Vicher, Feona Imperial and Yvette Morales