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Maguindanao massacre 12th anniversary commemorated with noise barrage

Media members and advocates held a noise barrage on Tuesday in Roces Park, Quezon City to commemorate the 12th year after the Maguindanao Massacre.

With the use of their whistles, members of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and press freedom advocates simultaneously made noise to remember the 58 victims of the massacre.

In a statement, the NUJP said it was adding its voice to that of the families and media community who sought justice in the “deadliest single attack on journalists.”

“We continue to #FightFor58 because, like for the families, forgetting is not an option and will never be an option,” the media group said.

“Even as we call for justice for the 58, NUJP also stands in solidarity with media workers who have been harassed, attacked and killed since 2009. In the constantly changing media landscape, attacks are no longer limited to physical ones,” they added.

On November 23, 2009, armed men abducted the relatives and supporters of Maguindanao gubernatorial candidate Esmael Mangudadatu who were on their way to file his candidacy, forced them up a remote hill where they were shot and killed.

Fifty-eight people died, 32 of them members of the media who had accompanied Mangudadatu's camp to cover the candidacy filing. Six of the victims were not part of the convoy at all.

The NUJP underscored that the Maguindanao massacre was a symbol of the “culture of impunity” in the attacks on media and other civilians.

“It is a grim reminder of the rottenness of the political system ruled by dynasties and warlords. This day calls upon us to remain vigilant and continue defending democracy against tyranny and it is for calling for accountability for these attacks that we can help keep our colleagues safe,” the group said.

Meanwhile, Presidential Task Force on Media Security Executive Director Joel Sy Egco joined in the commemoration of the Maguindanao massacre.

“We shall relentlessly pursue suspects at large. We will not stop until all suspects behind this heinous crime are arrested,” Egco said in a statement.

He also joined the media workers in strictly adhering to the principles of truth, accuracy, and objectivity in their reporting ahead of the May 2022 polls.

“Lagi po nating pinapaalalahanan ang ating pong mga taga-media na every election season ay delikado kaya mag-ingat po tayo,” he added.

(We always remind our media practitioners that every election season is dangerous so let's be careful.)

On December 2019, after nearly a decade of trial, Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes convicted former Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor Zaldy Ampatuan, Anwar Ampatuan Sr., Anwar "Ipi" Ampatuan Jr., and Anwar Sajid "Ulo" Ampatuan, and several police officers for the massacre.

They were declared guilty for the murder of 58 people in Maguindanao in 2009 that is known as an unprecedented case of election-related violence and an exceptionally brutal attack on the press. — DVM, GMA News