MEMBERS of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines-Baguio Benguet chapter, students, leaders and fellow media colleagues convene to commemorate the eight year anniversary of Ampatuan massacre.
Eight years ago in Barangay Salman, Ampatuan, Maguindanao, at least 58 were killed, including 32 journalists perpetrated by a political clan.
Only 115 of the 198 suspects have been arrested, while 112 were arraigned with four of those arrested died in the course of the proceedings including the primary suspect, Datu Andal Ampatuan Sr.
Prior to the massacre, the United Nations declared the Philippines as one of the deadliest country for journalists. NUJP dubbed it as the “worst of electoral violence in the recent Philippine history and the deadliest attack on the press ever.”
As of July this year, NUJP reported of the 102 jailed, 17 were granted by the court to bail. Acting chair NUJP Lawyer Jo Clemente noted four more principal accused in the massacre will still present witnesses. To date, no families have withdrawn all have been intact seeking justice.
“If we forget, we will have a hard time obtaining justice,” said NUJP member and Baguio journalist Kimberly Quitasol. “Eight years, we will not stop commemorating,” she added.
During the commemoration, the NUJP offered prayers followed by an open poetry with selected pieces led by Lutchie Maranan, Ivan Labayne and Kislap Alitaptap.
A forum on Combating Fake News with Ensuring Truthful Reporting with resource speaker Inday Espina Varona was also held.
Varona claimed fake news are propaganda, it is said to shape the public opinion, meant to direct attention, attack institutions and originates with the discontentment of people.
“Because many people felt traditional media was not meaningful anymore. Fake news has become the enemy of freedom of expression,” said Varona.
Varona added there is an artificial division between journalists and social media and reminded, that people needed not to be a journalists to have ethics.
To avoid fake news, Varona shared to media colleagues to “write your own message” while the best guarantee to avoid fake news is to go to the field, living the lives of the people, going to them and bringing out their voices.
“The best writing is conversational and using your own voice,” said Varona.