MANILA, Philippines – On the 9th anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) held a program at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani on Friday, November 23, calling for justice for the victims.
Among those at the event were Polytechnic University of the Philippines journalism students Frances Aira Acorda and Jamela Santiago, who could not help but express frustration and anger over the slow progress of the cases against those behind the deadly attack that killed 58 people, 32 of them journalists. (READ: Media groups record 85 attacks on press freedom under Duterte)
It is predicted that the earliest possible court ruling on the Maguindanao massacre case would be by 2019, or 10 years after the incident. So far, 197 had been officially charged and 117 arrested, while 80 persons remain at large, according to the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR).
“It’s frustrating to know that the justice system in the Philippines is clogged and the people behind the killings are not yet convicted,” said Acorda.
“Parang pilit na iniiwasan ng nga nasa itaas ang pagkamatay na matagal na dapat nabigyan ng hustisya (It’s like those in power are purposely trying to avoid giving justice due the victims),” said Santiago.
For Acorda and Santiago, the safety of journalists would always be under threat for as long as crimes against media workers remained unresolved.
“I’m hopeful that the truth will finally be unveiled soon and proper justice will be given to those who deserve it,” said Acorda.
The student journalists are aware of the risks that come with being a journalist in the Philippines, one of the deadliest countries in the world for media workers. Such facts would have swayed aspiring journalists to pursue a different path, but not Santiago and Acorda, who appear determined to become future journalists. (READ: IN NUMBERS: Global threats to press freedom in 2018) – Rappler.com
Jaira Krishelle Balboa is Rappler intern. She is a 4th year B.A. Journalism student at the Polythecnic University of the Philippines.