KORONADAL, South Cotabato, Philippines -- Journalists from all over the country will embark on a journey on Tuesday to retrace the doomed journey taken by 32 media workers and 26 supporters of a local politician, who were killed by an enraged warlord on Nov. 23, 2009, in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao.
Led by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), the reporters will join families of the slain journalists in marking the first year of the country?s worst election-related violence.
Rowena Paraan, NUJP director, said the activity would be in remembrance of the victims and an effort to educate the public on how such a tragedy could happen.
?Re-tracing the steps of the convoy is not only a way to pay tribute to the victims, but also a way to understand how the killings were carried out by the same people who were supposed to protect them,? Paraan told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
?It?s also a way to raise public awareness on the issue and let the people know that things like this would continue to happen if we don?t do anything about it,? she said.
The whole day event would kick-off from Gen. Santos City where most of the journalist-victims came from, Paraan said.
The group would make brief stops here and in Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat before proceeding to Maguindanao.
The participants would then converge at a military checkpoint in Ampatuan town where the victims were held by militiamen believed to be loyal to the Ampatuan clan, before they were slaughtered in a far-off village.
Paraan said most of the victims? families, especially those coming from General Santos, would visit the massacre site for the first time.
?It took a year for some of them to gather enough courage to go to the place where their loved ones were killed,? she said.
Incidentally, the NUJP is hosting two-day training on media risk-mapping here.
Paraan said the spate of media killings and violence in the country prompted the NUJP and other media groups to ?re-examine? the safety standards among journalists.
For one, she said the Maguindanao massacre debunked the idea that journalists would likely be safer if they travelled in groups or if they belonged to established and respected media companies.
?Being a famous media personality would not save you from the assassin?s bullets,? the NUJP official said.
The training, she said, would provide the group a ?visual map? of risks facing Filipino journalists, be it man-made or otherwise.
?Hopefully, we could minimize those dangers if we are able to recognize and understand the risks of our profession,? Paraan said.