Maguindanao massacre verdict has huge impact on press freedom, fight vs impunity — CHR | Inquirer News

Maguindanao massacre verdict has huge impact on press freedom, fight vs impunity — CHR

/ 07:00 PM December 17, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The impending verdict on the Maguindanao massacre case, 32 of the 58 fatalities were media workers, has a huge impact on the state of press freedom in the country, a Commission on Human Rights (CHR) official said.

This was according to CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia, who implied on Tuesday that the Maguindanao massacre opened the floodgates for abuses against media practitioners — including the recent attacks against journalists, especially those working at the provincial beats.

“In fact it contributed to the climate of impunity eh, the fact that it lingered for ten years, it dragged for ten years it really impacted our human rights situation,” De Guia told reporters at the University of the Philippines – Diliman.


“Kaya napakalaki talaga ‘yong nakasalalay dito.  And nakakabagabag na ten years after the Maguindanao massacre, nagta-translate pa rin ito sa heightened media attacks, nakita nga natin ‘yong karapatan ng mga journalists ay nakalagay ngayon sa alanganin,” she added.


(That’s why a lot is at stake here.  It is worrying that ten years after the Maguindanao massacre, it still translates to heightened media attacks, that we see the rights of journalists being trampled upon.)

De Guia’s remarks came two days before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court judge handling the case will release the decision.

The case stemmed from the killing of 58 individuals — including women and media persons — in Ampatuan, Maguindanao last November 22, 2009, as they were on their way to file the certificate of candidacy of then-Buluan town vice mayor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu.

The convoy was abruptly stopped by armed men along the highway of Sitio Masalay in Ampatuan town.  Mangudadatu was challenging the hold of the Ampatuan clan over Maguindanao.

Several members of the Ampatuan clan have been charged in the cases.  According to lawyer Nena Santos, one of the victims’ counsels, they are looking forward to a 100 percent conviction of the accused.

But 10 years after the single deadliest attack against the media, several journalists were still gunned down — including radio broadcaster Dindo Generoso who worked at Negros Oriental and radio station manager Benjie Caballero.


READ: CHR: Attacks on media shows ‘shrinking democratic space for free speech’

READ: CHR vows to continue probe on attacks vs journalists

De Guia hopes that people would also realize that the country needs journalists and protecting them would be a key to a vibrant democracy.

“Nakakalungkot (It’s sad) because Maguindanao massacre really was the pivotal event where we saw that our journalists underwent tremendous pain and suffering that cost them their lives, and ten years after they still continue to bear the brunt of that attack,” she explained.

“Many cannot exercise their profession in a conducive atmosphere, and that is something we decry in a democracy.  Kaya sana magkaroon ng heightened awareness ang publiko na kailangan natin ang media, kailangan din ng malayang journalism, at kailangan yong mga karapatan nila ay pangalagaan,” she added.

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(That’s why we hope there would be a heightened awareness among the public that we need the media, we need a free brand of journalism, and that their rights should be safeguarded.)

TAGS: Ampatuan, CHR, Impunity, Maguindanao, Media, Philippine news updates, press freedom

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