Society and Politics

Maguindanao Massacre: Three and Counting

Adrian John Ladaga, Staff Writer

While people will be exhilarated on a casual TGIF on November 23, there are souls who will not be as happy as the general working populace– the families and friends of the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre has less to celebrate about.

The passing of time has not given them the luxury to heal old wounds brought by the death of 58 people, 32 of whom are journalists, in a single bloody day. Adding insult to injury the development of the case against the Ampatuan perpetrators and less than 200 other cohorts, shows “no gradual improvement.”

“Ang bagal po talaga. Sobrang bagal,” said Catherine Nunez, mother of UNTV reporter Victor Nunez.

Catherine, who had a misunderstanding with her son a few weeks before the massacre, regrets the painful words she said to Victor. Until now, she cries when she tells the story of her son and her family’s struggle to move on.

“Hanggang ngayon masakit pa rin. Sobrang sakit pa rin [Until now it’s painful. Very painful],” she said.

Catherine recalled how Victor cooked for them. She never knew the last time she will see him on January 2007, the last time they will celebrate new year completely.

Journalist killings still prevail

The “single most deadly attack on journalist” has put the country on the map of the world, for reasons no Filipino could be proud of. Journalists from the international community have addressed their fears when the Philippines overtook Iraq as the “worst country for media practitioners.”

The Committee of Journalists of New York and the International Federation of Journalist has addressed the issue time and again calling it “the deadliest massacre of journalist in recorded history.” Their condemnation was met with only lukewarm response from the Philippine public.

True, the Filipino has been mad at the Ampatuans, Andal Sr., Andal Jr., enraged on the other 100 arrested suspects and bashful on the 93 other at large culprits- but that was three years too long ago.Time has made us forget, and the surmounting national and entertainment issues have made the Maguindanao Massacre a thing of the past.

Blame it on the Filipino’s “ningas-kugon,” so easily seen on our politician who only wants to promote their own interest in the case. Those who castigated the Ampatuans for their heinous act, cannot but help prioritize the upcoming election rather than manning-up on the word they said days after the killings.
Fault it to the tradition of degenerated justice system, so easily allowing “technicalities” branding the case as a harder to settele “conspiracy” rather than just plain simple “act against humanity” and “act against God’s will.

The stats are are staggering, at the least hurting for the survived families of the victims.

Of the 154 cases of media killings since the time of President Cory Aquino, only ten suspects were convicted. None of them were ever the mastermind.

At least 17 of the 28 supects bearing the name “Ampatuan” remains in hiding.
Prosecution and defense has some 200 witnesses each.

540 motions were carried out the defense in a move to delay the proceedings.
The resolution of the case will take a minimum of 24 years, if the current pace persists.

So what makes this more relevant to the video of a misjudged “Amalayer” and the franchise ender “Twilight: Breaking Dawn?” Freedom.

Freedom from a number of things: to express one self, to know, from fear, to choose and participate. When the agents who are the ears and voice of the people were gunned down and thrown unto a mass grave. Those freedom temporarily died with them.

The 2013 elections will be once again re-surface what is very wrong in the country–power held by few political families who rule with guns, goons and gold.

Meanwhile, hope will not diminish so long as we do not forget to seek justice and change this country’s many problems rooted on negative cultural and traditional practices such as “bahala na”, colonial mentality, pakikisama and crab mentality.

Catherine, despite all the loss, pain, and trauma the tragedy have brought her, she is still optimistic that justice will be served for her son and all the victims of the massacre.

“Mataas pa rin ang paniniwala namin. Ipinapasa-Diyos na lang namin ang lahat, sa kanya kami humuhugot ng lakas [Our hopes are still high. We just leave everything to God, he’s our strength].”

Three years have left the victims of Maguindanao massacre three words–we often forget because of an almost routine day to day life–life goes on. –With reports from Jhoanna Ballaran

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