‘A backhoe cannot bury the memory of 58 lives’

Angela Casauay
‘A backhoe cannot bury the memory of 58 lives’
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines rolls out a week-long commemoration of Maguindanao Massacre, to end with the lighting of one million candles for the victims on November 23

MANILA, Philippines – On November 23, it will be 5 years since 58 victims, including 32 journalists, were massacred and buried using a backhoe in the province of Maguindanao. They happened to be in the convoy of Esmael Mangudadatu, whose political bid the Ampatuan clan intended to derail. 

In the lead-up to the 5th anniversary of the deadliest massacre to be committed in the Philippines in recent history, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines launched on Monday, November 17, a public service advertisement (PSA) as part of a week-long commemoration of the incident. 

The PSA utilizes the imagery of a backhoe to drive across a message: this “big elephant” in the room will and should not be forgotten. 

Watch Project: Backhoe below: 


NUJP produced the 30-second video in cooperation with the Philippine Integrated Advertising Agency and WYD Productions. It was directed by Jose Carlos Soliongco, with photography by Marco Limjap. 

An international delegation of journalists from Asia and Australia will be traveling to General Santos City to meet with families of the victims on Thursday, November 20. They will also go to the town of Ampatuan to visit the site of the bloody massacre on Friday, November 21, in the lead up to the 5th anniversary activities on Sunday, November 23. 

On the day of the anniversary, one million candles will be lit up for the victims at the EDSA Shrine in Ortigas, Pasig City.

Below is the schedule of activities: 

Five years since the massacre, none of the 197 suspects have been convicted. The prosecution has rested its case on the bail hearing and the court is currently hearing the evidence of the defense team, which is expected to present about 300 witnesses. (READ: Maguindanao massacre conviction by 2016? De Lima still optimistic)

Although 111 out of the accused have been arrested and arraigned, at least 86 suspects remain at large. 

In a bid to speed up the proceedings, the Supreme Court has issued a memorandum allowing lawyers to just submit the sworn statement of a witness in a question-and-answer format in lieu of having to taking the witness stand.

The High Court has also allowed Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis Reyes to decide on cases that are “ripe for resolution” even as other ones remain pending. 

As the case drags on, the prosecution team has also been marred by in-fighting between two private lawyers and public prosecutors over legal tactics and allegations of bribery – a situation that has pushed Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to personally manage the caseRappler.com

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