Kin of victims, various groups, media organizations, advocates, and individuals held a demonstration in Mendiola, Manila yesterday to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre.
Seven years ago, the deadliest single attack on media in the Philippine history happened at Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman, Ampatuan. Moreover, the Ampatuan Massacre is also considered as the worst incident of electoral violence in the country.
Fifty eight (58) were killed, including 32 media workers, 9 from the Mangudadatu clan, 6 supporters, 3 lawyers, 2 van drivers and 6 incidental victims, or those who were during the checkpoint at the time of interception.
The full names of the Ampatuan massacre victims are as follow:
- Benjie Adolfo
- Henry Araneta
- McDelbert Arriola
- Rubello Bataluna
- Arturo Betia
- Romeo Jimmy Cabillo
- Marites Cablitas
- Hannibal Cachuela
- Jepon Cadagdagon
- John Caniban
- Lea Dalmacio
- Noel Decina
- Gina Dela Cruz
- Jhoy Duhay
- Jolito Evardo
- Santos Gatchalian
- Bienvenido Legarte, Jr.
- Lindo Lupogan
- Ernesto Maravilla
- Rey Merisco
- Marife Montaño
- Rossell Morales
- Victor Nuñez
- Ronnie Perante
- Joel Parcon
- Fernando Razon
- Alejandro Bong Reblando
- Napoleon Salaysay
- Francisco Subang
- Andres Teodoro
- Daniel Tiamson
- Reynaldo Momay
- Bai Genalin Tiamzon Mangudadatu
- Bai Eden Gaguil Mangudadatu
- Bai Farinah Mangudadatu Hassan
- Rowena Ante Mangudadatu
- Surayyda Gaguil Bernan
- Wahida Ali Kaliman
- Mamotabai Mangudadatu
- Raida Abdul Sapalon
- Faridah Sabdullah Gaguil
- Pinky Balayman
- Lailani Balayman
- Eugene Demillo Pamansag
- Abdillah Ayada
- Rahima Palawan
- Meriam Calimbol
- Cynthia Oquendo
- Concepcion Brizuela Jayme
- Catalino Oquendo
- Norton Edza Ebus
- Razul Daud Bulilo
- Wilhelm Palabrica
- Mercy Catalino Palabrica
- Eduardo Lichonsito
- Cecille Lichonsito
- Daryll Vincent de los Reyes
- Anthony Ridao
The massacre led to a tremor not only to the country, but to the world. Moreover, it highly contributed to the movement to end impunity and call to stop killings, as well as harassment of journalists in all forms, in the Philippines and across the globe.
Justice Delayed, Justice Denied
Today, seven years later, justice is still denied.
The Ampatuan clan patriarch and alleged mastermind, Andal Ampatuan Sr., already died of liver cancer last July 17, 2015 at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Quezon City.
Andal Ampatuan Sr.’s death prior to his verdict due to stagnant justice granted him to be extinguished from his criminal liability, as per Philippines’ Rule on Criminal Procedure.
On the other hand, Sajid Islam Ampatuan, one of the accused, was granted freedom through a P11.6-million bail.
Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City ordered the immediate release of Sajid Islam Ampatuan through an order made on March 9, 2015.
Moreover, the case trial remains slow.
Four (4) witnesses have been murdered throughout the trial namely: Alijol Ampatuan, Suwaib Upham, Dennis Sakal, and Esmail Amil Anog.
As of January 14, 2015, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility in its Ampatuan Trial Watch initiative, reported that the number of accused for the massacre has already led to 246, which include local government officials and police officers.
Arlyn Lupogan, 40, wife of slain journalist Lindo Lupogan thanked all those who are present in the commemoration, “Wala po akong masabi kundi magpasalamant sa lahat ng sumusuporta sa amin na makamtam namin ang hustisya, lalo na sa NUJP na laging sumusuporta sa amin, sa mga anak namin, sa pagtustos ng pag-aaral ng mga anak namin. Sa mga media po, maraming salamat, at sa lahat po ng mga estudyante rito na sumusuporta, taon-taon na lang. (I have nothing to say but thank you to all those who support to attain justice, especially to NUJP which always supports us, our children and their studies. To the media, thank you very much, and to all the students here who support every year.),” Lupogan said.
“Pitong taon na po. Pitong taon na na nangarap kami ng hustisya. Sana, ‘wag niyo kalimutan ang nangyari sa mga mahal naming sa buhay, sa brutal na pagpasalang sa kanila. (It has been seven years. For seven years, we have been dreaming of justice. I hope that you would not forget what happened to our loved ones, and the manner on which they were killed.)”
Call for genuine media freedom
According to the National Union of Journalist in the Philippines (NUJP), a 25-year study done by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) placed the Philippines second to Iraq, based on journalist killings.
Virgilio Cuizon, founder of NUJP-Europe, said about the Ampatuan trial that “Wala pang nangyayari. Talagang zero justice. (Nothing is happening. Zero justice.)”
When asked about NUJP’s efforts in assisting the trial and advancing the interests of the Philippine press, Cuizon said that “Patuloy po ang pakikipag-ugnayan ng NUJP sa Kongreso, sa Senado, sa mga eskwelahan, para lamang mabigyan ng pansin ang kaso. (The NUJP continuously reach out to the Congress, Senate, and universities for the case.)”
“Sinusubaybayan po namin ang pamilya ng mga nasawi, at pinipilit po naming matulungan sa pag-aaral ang kanilang mga anak. May programa po kami talaga na pag-aaralin ang mga anak ng mga nasawing journalists, lalo na ng mga biktima ng Ampatuan massacre. (We keep in touch with the family of the victims, and we ensure that we are able to help their children with their studies. We have a program to help slain journalists’ children with their studies, especially the children of the victims of the Ampatuan massacre.), ” Cuizon added.
Regarding his expectations from the Duterte administration, Cuizon said, “Ineexpect po natin ay bigyan talagang pansin, seryosohin, at ikulong ang dapat makulong. (I expect that [President Duterte] will address, take seriously [the Ampatuan massacre trial], and to imprison those who should be put behind bars.)”
“Biglang laya talaga ang pamamahayag. ‘Wag habulin, ‘wag ikulong, ‘wag patayin [media workers]. (Give genuine freedom to journalism. Do not go after, do not imprison, and do not kill [media workers]).”
On the other hand, Jose Mari Callueng, National President of the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), the oldest and broadest alliance of student publications in Asia-Pacific, is hopeful of the administration’s sincerity in the formation of Task Force Media Killings, and related the issue of impunity to campus press.
“Kung totoo po ang Duterte sa kanilang call in forming Task Force Media Killings, this should reflect justice for the 32 journalists, and the other more. Sa span ng 25 years, mahigit kumulang 100 ang namatay na journalists eh, and lalo pa itong lumalala nang lumalala. (If the Duterte Administration is true to its call in forming Task Force Media Killings, this should reflect justice for the 32 journalists, and more. In the span of 25 years, more or less 100 journalists were killed, and it continuously worsens.),” said Callueng.
“Sa paghingi natin ng hustisya, hinihingi rin natin ang hustisya para sa campus press. Hindi malayo. Nire-reiterate natin na hindi malayo ang kinakaharap ng mainstream media sa kinakaharap ng campus press. Inaatake rin kami sa iba’t ibang porma: censorship, withholding of funds, nandiyan din ang harassment sa amin. Nire-red tag din ang mga campus press na ito na tagapamahayag lamang ng katotohanan. (In our quest for justice, we also want justice for the campus press. It is not different. We reiterate that the problems faced by the mainstream media is not different with those of the campus press. We are also being attacked in various forms: censorship, withholding of funds, and harassment. We are being red-tagged when we all do is tell the truth.),” Callueng added.
“Kaya inaasahan natin na the Task Force Media Killings should also reflect to campus level. Hindi lang naman mainstream media ang biktima, pati campus press. (We expect that the Task Force Media Killings should also reflect to campus level. The mainstream media is not the lone victim, but also the campus press.)”
“Inaasahan natin na ‘di na tayo dapat aabot ng isa pang taon muli…Dapat ngayon na ay mabigay ang hustisyang hinihingi ng pamilya ng mga biktima. (We expect that there will no longer be another year. Justice should be given now.),” Callueng ended.— PCIJ, August 2018