Massacre still haunts Mindanao media




DAVAO CITY—The massacre that caught the world’s attention and gave the country the reputation as the world’s most dangerous place for journalists haunts Mindanao journalists two years later.

Asked to take pictures of the Davao mansions of the Ampatuan clan, a photojournalist who normally covers stories in conflict areas promptly asked, “Are there snipers there?”

A TV5 camera crew which had taken shots of the mansions during the day refused to film nighttime scenes in the area because of the reported presence of armed men in the buildings. “That is impunity,” said Jeffrey Tupas of TV5 Davao.

“It was an eye-opener,” said Art Bonjoc Jr., the area news manager of ABS-CBN news and current affairs in Northern Mindanao, when he talked about the massacre that killed 58 people, 33 of them journalists, in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao two years ago on November 23.

“It made me realize the Philippine press is not free at all; and if journalists are not free, then, Filipinos, in general, are not free. The more reason for media to be vigilant,” said Bonjoc, also chairman of Cagayan de Oro chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).

“If there was one glaring lesson journalists should learn from the massacre, it was that it wouldn’t have happened if we, as journalists, had only faithfully done our job of exposing the truth,” said Dodong Solis, former station manager of the RMN radio network, now head of the Internet-based One Radio.

Lessons learned

“We are used to covering prominent politicians with whole battalion of bodyguards in full battle gear tagging behind them and yet we keep a blind eye,” said Solis, a member of NUJP-Davao advisory council.

“When we see their luxury cars and expensive lifestyle, we turn the other way, as if these things are normal,” Solis said. “Later, we realized they don’t respect human dignity, this was how we contributed to impunity.”

A survey in October showed that Filipino journalists were already self-censoring themselves for fear that what happened in Maguindanao would also happen to them.

This “culture of impunity,” wherein media practitioners can anytime be harassed or killed while performing their duties, has self-restricted journalists, said the survey.

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  • Guest

    I would definitely think there is a “haunting” here! 

    When we saw on television at the time of the “Massacre”, the Ampatuan kid (now incarcerated along with his warlord daddy) standing at some ceremony at the Palace along with Gloria Arroyo on stage – and both appearing very nervous – and that the “knowing” of the massacre in Mindanao was then taking place, what else is there to say, except there is media thought GMA already knew about the killings and did not attempt to stop it.

    How many media personnel and innocents were murdered under the GMA administration?  Count them!

  • Jacque Toto

    Yan pa ang isang malaking pagkakamali ni GMA noong panahon nya dahil sa laki ng utang na loob nya sa mga AMPATUAN ng ma-zero si FPJ sa balwarte ng mga muslim na BABOY at KAMPON NI SATANAS na mga Ampatuan noong national election at sa sama ng loob ay ikinamatay pa ito ni FPJ, ay pinayagang nya na pumatay ng 57 na tao ang mga HALIMAW na ito sa ilalim ng gobyerno nya. Ang mga hayop na ito kung umasta ay para bang ang buhay lang nila dito sa Pilipinas ang importante at mahalaga.Buhay pa kayo pero sinisilaban na sa impierno ang mga kaluluwa ninyo. Humanda na kayo at unti-unti na kayong hinahatak ni kamatayan at para magsama-sama na kayo ng tuluyan.

  • Anonymous

    “Massacre still haunts Mindanao media”

    True. The head government is in Luzon. Influential journalist are in Manila. All of them don’t care. Provincial journalists have to stand on their own. How many Mindanao journalists were killed but the masterminds of their murder are still free and snickering at justice. 

    Malacanang officials and Manila journalists, who are very rich, discriminate Mindanao media men. What happened to the Ampatuan massacre is an evidence of the discrimination. No one is moving to speed up the delivery of justice.

  • Rednaxela VD

    Bakit kaya hanggang ngayon di parin mapin-down ang ampatuans for the massacre?  kitang-kita naman na sila ang gumawa.

    Hindi kaya dahil pinatulan ni Penoy ang alok nina zaldy na maging state witness against GMA?

    It’s really funny and disappiointing when the personal agenda of the president gets in the way of justice.  much more kung persecution of political enemies lang ang alam niyang gawin sa kanyang 6 year term. 

  • Anonymous

    Suggestion lang po… para mapabilis na lahat ng ito: pakawalan na natin mga ampatuan at himukin si GMA, Mike at sampu ng kanilang mga angkan na mag-kandidato laban kay ampatuan sa Maguindanao. hindi taga-media ang sasama sa pagfile ng candidacy nila kundi mga SC justices at mga senador, kongresista at opisyal ng gobyerno at militar na kurakot! para mas sinister, bigyan natin ng weapons of mass destruction sila GMA at kampon nya. Kawawa naman sila kung walang kalaban-laban. Pero siguruhin din natin na taasan ang budget ng ARMM para mas maraming kampon ni satanas, mga hayok at balasubas na ma-hire ang mga ampatuan… para fair! o, di ba malaking bawas to sa mga problema ng bansa?!

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