IT HAS been eight years since the worst election-related violence in recent Philippine history and the worst attack on journalists the world has known, but the pursuit for justice for the victims of the massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao that killed 58 people, including 32 journalists, continues.
In Negros Occidental, officers and members of the Negros Press Club (NPC) and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)-Bacolod chapter are joining the nationwide commemoration of the massacre on November 23.
The media groups will hold a torch parade around the public plaza, passing Gonzaga, Gatuslao, Rizal, and San Juan Streets, at 5 p.m.
It will be followed by the lighting of candles and offering of prayers at the Marker for Fallen Journalists at the public plaza at 6 p.m.
Mass Communications students and campus journalists are also expected to join the commemoration.
“Eight years, 58 lives, zero justice,” said NUJP national director Nonoy Espina of InterAksyon.com.
Prosecutors have identified 197 perpetrators, including the relatives of the alleged orchestrator of the Maguindanao massacre, Andal Ampatuan Jr., the former mayor of Datu Unsay, Maguindanao.
Four of the accused, including Andal Ampatuan Sr., died while in detention.
On November 23, 2009, the journalists who were supposed to cover the filing of the certificate of candidacy of then gubernatorial candidate Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, Ampatuan’s rival, were gunned down and buried in Sitio Masilay, Ampatuan town in Maguindanao province.
The NUJP national director Nestor Burgos Jr. of the Philippine Daily Inquirer said 178 journalists have been killed in the country since 1986.
Of the number, 98 were in Mindanao, 66 in Luzon, and 13 in the Visayas.
Burgos said the Arroyo administration is the “deadliest” year for journalists with 103 killed, including those who were massacred in Ampatuan town.
Under the Duterte administration, five journalists were killed.
Burgos said radio is the “most dangerous medium” for journalists with 86 killed, followed by print with 67; print and radio with 12; and television with eight.