Campus Journalists, leaders mark Maguindanao massacre

By Zyra Ponce


In commemoration of the 12th year anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre, the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) in Camarines Sur together with other campus journalists and student leaders lit candles at the Quince Martires in Naga City on Tuesday. Nov. 23. in solidarity and remembrance of the 58 massacre victims.


With the theme “Katanudan: A Remembrance and Call for Justice”, the event was participated by campus student publications in Naga City such as The Democrat of University of Nueva Caceres (UNC), The Pillars Publication of Ateneo de Naga University (AdNU), Seafarers’ Gazette of Mariners Polytechnic Colleges, the Naguenian – the official student publication of Naga City Science High School, and other student leaders and staff of school publications in the province.


In an interview with Abby Bilan, CEGP Bicol regional director, she said the objective of the activity is to heed a call for justice for the victims of the Maguindano massacre, where one of the victims is still unrecognized and not included in the count. The group also condemned the justice system in the country where some of the 80 defendants have not yet been sentenced.


Bilan stressed that the protest also condemned the Duterte regime for the unceasing attacks on press freedom and Filipino journalists who were intimidated in performing their duties.


“Kaya ang panawagan namin ay mabigyan na ng hustisya ang limampu’t walong ito maliban diyan dahil na rin sa lumalalalang press repression sa ating bansa dahil sa Duterte Administration. Nanawagan kami na itigil na ang pagpapapatay [at] pagko-convict ng cyberlibel at iba’t ibang rampant charges sa ating mga kasama na mga media workers “, Bilan said vis-à-vis the intimidations and harassments of Filipino journalists.


To recall, the heinous crime murdered 58 people where 32 of them were members of the media. It was the most gruesome election related violence in the country’s history and tagged as the world’s single deadliest event for journalists.


In 2019, the long wait for justice was realized when Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of RTC Branch 221 in Quezon City sentenced the massacre masterminds Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr., and Zaldy Ampatuan together with 24 others for 57 counts of murder and sentenced to them to reclusia perpetua or up to 40 years in jail without parole.


In addition, Bilan also said that hopefully in 2022 national elections, there would be no violence and attacks against Filipino journalists.


“Nananawagan kami na sa nalalapit na 2022 election ay hindi na maulit ito na hindi na magkaroon ng patuloy na panggigipit lalong-lalo na sa ilalim ng administrasyong Duterte at magkaroon ng mapayapa at malayang pamamahayag ang bawat journalist at bawat media workers sa ating bansa” Bilan said.