NINE years since the brutal killing of 58 people, including 32 journalists in a mountain in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, Bacolod journalists lighted a candle to commemorate their death at the marker of the fallen journalists at the public plaza on Friday, November 23.
Negros Press Club president Renato "Boy" Duran said: "In this most trying times in our country, it is incumbent upon as media practitioners in Bacolod City and Negros Occidental to show to everyone that we are one and united to take a common stand insofar as upholding justice and fairness for a particular cause.”
“Until this very day, justice has not been served to the victims and their families," he said.
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines president Jose Jaime "Nonoy" Espina, for his part, said: "Last week, I was at Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman, Ampatuan where the gruesome massacre happened nine years ago. We were with the families with the victims, both civilians and the media. The family of Toto Mangudadato was also there. On our way to the site, I was thinking, when will be the time that we will all gather to the place of the incident without feeling sad and angry? We want to see the day that we come there feeling happy because justice is already attained by the victims and their families.”
“I also think that it's already tiring that for nine years, nothing has been attained insofar as justice is concerned. But I realized upon seeing the families, how come I will get tired when they are not tired of coming back and forth? I don't have the right to get tired because they are not even tired even if they already lost a member of their family to the senseless act of violence committed by the people who have not yet been sentenced until now," he added.
Espina said “We need to continue the fight until we attain justice that the victims and their families deserved - not just being media practitioners but as citizens of this country.”
"It would be difficult to attain justice. But if it will happen, then it is a start. Since 1986, there were 180 journalists who were killed in the Philippines. If justice will be served to the 32 journalists who were killed in Maguindanao plus 13 convictions, still it represents a very small percentage of the unsolved killings of media practitioners. It means that justice is very difficult to attain in the Philippines. It should be a matter of fact that when somebody does an offense to you, you can gain justice. But not in this country," he said.
Andrea Jaime, sister of slain human rights lawyer Connie Jayme Bezuela said "after nine years of long waiting, the families of the victims who met a monstrous death will soon hear the verdict as promised by the Justice Secretary to have the decision on the first quarter of 2019."
“We hope and pray that we can gain justice as promised,” she said.
The group released white balloons for the souls of the victims.
Young journalists from various campuses also joined the activity and expressed their support to the call for justice to the victims and their families.