CDO Press Club asks Duterte to give justice to Ampatuan Massacre victims

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/24 June) — Members of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club on Thursday signed a manifesto urging incoming President Rodrigo Duterte and his Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre to ensure justice for the victims of the Ampatuan Massacre.

COPC President Fr. Elmer Abacahin reminded Duterte that he was elected because he promised “a new beginning and a new change.”

“We remind Duterte to remain true to his campaign promise,” Abacahin said, noting that his predecessor, President Benigno Aquino III, did not fulfill the same promise.

He, however, said that relations between Duterte and the media have not been good in recent days.

He said the new President should understand the role of the press as the fourth estate.

“Duterte is mistaken to think he will win if he boycotts the media because we still will be there to bring the news stories to our readers, listeners and viewers. Journalists can never be cowed,” he said.

The manifesto signed by COPC members reads in part:

“We, the members and officers of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club, Inc., will not stand idly as our colleagues in the industry continue to be targeted for doing their jobs to promote transparency and accountability in the government.

“We expressed concerned of the recent pronouncements of Duterte regarding the extrajudicial killing. The accused deserved to be given due process while justice should be dispensed speedily.”

In a meeting with the local chapter of the Kapisanan ng Brodkasters ng Pilipinas a week ago, COPC officers discussed prospects for the media under Duterte.

They invited former COPC president Reuben Canoy to give some insights.

Canoy urged local journalist to give Duterte a chance to work on his campaign promise but at the same time remain vigilant against any excesses.

“Power is always a temptation. The late President Ferdinand Marcos had that power and he abused it. I hope Duterte will not follow in his steps,” he said.

Like Duterte, Canoy, a former city mayor of Cagayan de Oro and member of the Marcos-era parliament, is an advocate of federalism.

On Nov. 23, 2009, fifty-eight people, 32 of them media workers, were killed in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao in what is considered the worst political violence in the country’s recent history.

Prominent members of the powerful Ampatuan family are the alleged masterminds of the bloodbath. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)