November 23, 2011 · Posted in: General

Maguindanao and
the reign of impunity

NOVEMBER 23, 2011.

On this day, two years ago, 58 people including 32 journalists were executed by armed men allegedly belonging to the private army of Maguindanao’s Ampatuan clan on a lonely windswept hillside in Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman, Ampatuan town in Maguindanao province.

The Maguindanao Massacre, as the incident would be called, would be remembered not only for the sheer scale of the atrocity and the staggering number of journalists killed; more than anything, the incident brought into sharp and stark focus the problem of impunity. Here was an influential clan that allegedly thought nothing of making 58 people disappear from the face of the earth as if they had never existed. Broken bodies were stacked with crushed vehicles into pits dug by a backhoe owned by the Maguindanao provincial government. In Maguindanao, impunity stared all of us in the face and dared us to back off.

Today, the world media community remembers the Maguindanao Massacre by declaring November 23 as International Day Against Impunity. The declaration is both a statement and a challenge to government, the public sector, and the media.

Concerned journalists and civil society groups gathered for a march down Recto Avenue to historic Mendiola bridge to remind the government of its promise to curb the culture of impunity. Volunteers drew chalk outlines of victims of media killings on the pavement, also to serve as a reminder to government officials that the government ultimately has to be held responsible for many of the murders.


Today too, in commemoration of the Maguindanao Massacre, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism is honored to announce a partnership with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands for a series of activities that would highlight the concerted and multi-sectoral efforts to fight impunity.

These efforts include the screening of videos that document the fight against impunity, particularly in the case of the murders of mediamen. The partnership also includes participation by various sectors involving the media, alternative law groups, human rights defenders, and civil society, in various forums and training programs especially in the strife-torn areas of Mindanao. By bringing together these various groups and linking them up with young Moro leaders, PCIJ and the Netherlands Embassy hope to empower and enable the next generation of leaders who may then be able to help in stamping out the culture of impunity.

Lastly, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism is proud to publish the 35-minute documentary Maguindanao:The Quest for Justice. The documentary looks at the plight of families of the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre, in stark contrast to the continued reign of the Ampatuan clan in Maguindanao province.

The online version may be viewed here:

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