UP College of Mass Communication (CMC) students, faculty members and administrators held a candle lighting protest at the CMC Veranda yesterday in commemoration of the nearing 10th year anniversary of the Ampatuan-Maguindanao Massacre.
32 media practitioners out of 58 victims were killed on the November 23, 2009 massacre, which is now considered the deadliest attack against journalists in history.
“The journalists were doing their job of covering the elections at the time, and ten years after, justice is still denied[sic]them. There still have been no convictions made as of this time,” newly appointed CMC Dean Arminda Santiago said.
Journalism student organization members Arneth Asiddao and Thomas Roca also called out the past three administrations for failing to arrest 80 of the 197 suspects, which they see as a manifestation of the prevailing culture of impunity.
Today, efforts to silence the press have been seen in the continued distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks against alternative media websites that prevent readers from accessing their sites.
“Sinasabi ng Qurium Foundation na walang tigil, walang humpay sa nakaraang halos 60 na araw ang DDOS attacks. Nais nilang i-shut down ang alternative media outfits na bahagi ng critical media sa ilalim ng adminstrasyong Duterte,” Bulatlat editor Ronalyn Olea said.
These acts of media repression should not be seen as isolated cases, according to Anakbayan Maskom member Jabo Ramos.
“Hindi na lamang ito laban sa ating press freedom sapagkat hangga’t may isang sistemang nanunupil sa atin, hindi tayo magkakaroon ng mga batayang karapatan ang buong sambayanang Pilipino,” Ramos said.
The event was organized by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), and they plan to hold monthly candle lighting protests at various campuses throughout the country until November when an entire decade will have passed since the brutal murders were committed.
Journalism Professor Danilo Arao emphasized the importance of continuing to organize against attacks on press freedom and of examining current social realities.
“Sa pamamagitan ng ating masikhay na pag-oorganisa, tayo ay dumarami, at lalong lumalalim ang ating kaisipan at ating commitment para sa makabuluhang pagbabago,” Arao added.
NUJP started the 11-month long countdown at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani last January 23 by organizing media groups, such as Photojournalists’ Center of the Philippines, Center for Community Journalism and Development and College Editors Guild of the Philippines.