Justice for slain journos ‘slow’

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Friday, December 27, 2013

MORE journalists had been killed as the wheels of justice seem to be turning very slow for the 32 media practitioners who died in the infamous Ampatuan massacre more than two years ago in sitio Masalay, Barangay Salma, Ampatuan town in Maguindanao, according to the president of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club Inc. (COPC).

Msgr. Elmer Abacahin, COPC president, said even with the gruesome death of the 32 journalists on November 23, 2009, still, media killings persisted with the most recent death of Joash Dignos, Michael Diaz Milo and Rogelio Butalid this year.

The three radio commentators, who were from various parts of Mindanao, were slain within days of each other.

Dignos, a radio blocktimer at dxGT, was gunned down on November 29 in Valencia City; Milo, a talk show host for dxFM, was killed in Tandag City, December 6; and Butalid, a blocktime commentator at Radyo Natin, was shot dead in Tagum City last December 11.

During the monthly commemoration of the Ampatuan massacre on December 23, the members of the COPC and the city’s local media gathered at the Press Freedom Monument in De Lara park to light candles and say prayers for those who were killed.

Abacahin said what is lamentable is the allegation that the families of those who were killed in the massacre were offered millions of pesos in exchange for not pursuing the multiple criminal cases against some members of the Ampatuan clan, the principal suspects in the massacre.

This could be the reason why the cases have dragged on for years, he said.

“Every 23rd of the month is a gathering for members of the media in Cagayan de Oro, (as) it serves as a wake-up call to maintain the flame of concern for our media colleagues who died,” he said.

Abacahin said he has not felt the support of any politician or partisan group, not even a single sympathy.

“Ato-ato nalang gyud ni nga initiative (This is our own initiative),” said Abacahin.

Abacahin added that the COPC will not stop this monthly advocacy until justice is served.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 27, 2013.

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