MANILA, Philippines – With less than a month to go before a verdict is passed on the Maguindanao massacre, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) chair Nonoy Espina said he is confident the decision would be just. (READ: Supreme Court extends Ampatuan massacre judgment to December)
Espina spoke to Rappler on Friday, November 22, a day before the 10th anniversary of the massacre, which is known as the deadliest single-day attack on journalists.
Reacting to the statement of the victims' lawyer Nena Santos that press freedom will be dead should there be no conviction, Espina said, "I think it’s more like it’s democracy that will suffer the most."
He continued: "Because if they’re acquitted, then it will send a signal, the next elections are gonna be bloody. I can imagine the implications of that on the electoral process. And that’s more than press freedom, that’s the lynchpin of our democratic system – free elections. So if you say, no, they weren’t guilty of the massacre, then, my God, I can’t imagine what future elections will look like."
"But having said that, I’m still confident, I’m really, really confident that they will be convicted," he added.
The verdict, which is set to be passed on December 20, will end a decade-long wait for justice for the families of the 58 killed, 32 of whom were journalists. (READ: Do we need to die to do our jobs well?)
Espina said the massacre itself was an attack on democracy as well: "And I think that’s even worse. You massacre people to stop a rival from running. You trample on the whole democratic process, on our concept of nation, and process, and our rule of law."