MAKATI CITY (NUJP / 01 Nov) — The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and the family of Daniel Tiamzon, one of the 32 media workers killed in the Nov 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre, held a silent protest at the Manila South Cemetery in Makati City on the afternoon of Tuesday, All Saints’ Day.
The protest was to highlight the continued absence of justice for the 58 victims of the massacre – dubbed the worst incident of electoral violence in recent Philippines and the single deadliest attack on the press ever – after seven years.
“The true mark of good government is its ability to protect the rights of all its citizens and to swiftly ensure justice when these rights are violated,” Dabet Panelo, NUJP secretary general said. “The Philippine government is sadly wanting on this account. not only in the case of the massacre victims but of the more than 170 journalists murdered in the country in 1986 and all others who have lost their lives to extrajudicial killings.”
Although acknowledging that no journalist has been slain under the Duterte administration, Panelo noted a dramatic rise in threats and harassment directed against media practitioners, especially those who have reported critically of government.
“It is worrisome because there is a thin line between threats and actually carrying these out,” Panelo said. “It does not help that many of these threats are triggered by deliberate misinformation that can be traced to some administration insiders and supporters, aggravated by this government’s penchant for accusing media of everything from misinterpreting the President to even involvement in alleged destabilization plots.”
Tiamzon’s widow, Editha, said the past seven years have slowly eroded their faith not only in the state’s ability but its intention to give justice to her husband, a cameraman for the UNTV network, and the other victims of the massacre.
She also lamented that the government has done nothing to help ease the daily suffering of the victims’ families, most of whom lost their breadwinners.
“If not for the assistance of the NUJP and its partners, our children would not have been able to continue their education after the massacre,” she said. “But we also have other needs and the government should be obliged to assist us. After all, it was state agents – including police – who were responsible for the slaughter.”
Dabet Panelo, NUJP Secretary General