Press freedom? 27 journalists killed in Maguindanao
Two still unaccounted for
MANILA –At least 27 journalists were among those killed in the Maguindanao massacre, an incident that
|List compiled by the Center for International Law
1. Ian Subang, Socsargen Today, General Santos City
marked the darkest day in the history of Philippine journalism.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) confirmed the identification of the remains. The DSWD is reportedly still checking whether three other victims were journalists.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said the “27 is not the final number.” The difficulty in identifying the bodies is one contributing factor why the numbers continue to change.
“Local chapters are still working to get the final count,” said NUJP Vice Chairperson, Nonoy Espina. Some officers of the NUJP flew to Maguindanao to conduct a fact-finding mission.
The CenterLaw Philippines, a public interest law group, said that of the 27 journalists, two remain missing, based on interviews with their families. They are Reynaldo "Bebot" Momay of the Midland Review in Tacurong City, and Lindo Lupogan of Davao City.
Meanwhile, of the 25 other journalists, 10 were from General Santos City, 10 from Koronadal, three from Tacurong City, and one each from Cotabato and Davao.
Local and international media groups mourned the deaths of their colleagues, and at the same time, demanded that justice be served to the victims’ families.
‘More hazardous than Iraq’
ANC’s On the Scene reported that the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has tagged the Philippines as the world’s most dangerous country for media.
The CPJ said the massacre of more than a dozen reporters in Maguindanao has made the country more hazardous than Iraq.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said in an earlier statement that due to the incident, the Philippines, “outside of Iraq, has topped the tables of countries where journalists are most at risk in recent years”.
In another statement, the Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project said the Maguindanao massacre will leave a mark in President Arroyo’s nine years in power.
“Much is said and claimed by those in power about an improving human rights record: However, such an atrocity and the climate of impunity that surrounds it is surely the most accurate measure of the reality behind all the official words,” the Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project stated.
In a report by Romel Regalado Bagares, executive director for the Center for International Law, the Ampatuan massacre wiped out the staff of a five-year-old pioneering vernacular newsweekly, Periodico Ini (This Periodical).
The newsweekly lost five of its staff in the incident.
Bagares added that the incident also left many community newspapers and news organizations in the five towns missing a staff or two.
Journalist’s wife speaks out
Noemi Parcon, wife of slain Prontiera News publisher in Koronadal City, last talked to her husband on the fateful day he set off to join the Mangudadatu convoy.
“Noong Monday morning, bago siya umalis papuntang Buluan,” Mrs. Parcon said.
Her husband’s trip worried her as it was common knowledge in the area that the Mangudadatus and Ampatuans are rival clans.
“Naisip ko baka madisgrasya siya sa pagsama-sama niya doon kasi alam ko po delikado yung pupuntahan nila,” Mrs. Parcon added.
She said her daughter heard on the radio that the Mangudadatu convoy was being held in Shariff Aguak. She reassured her daughter that the men that stopped the convoy would not hurt members of the media.
“Hindi naman nila ginagalaw ang mediamen,” she said. Nevertheless, her daughter called up Parcon and only heard a commotion when the phone was answered.
However, further phone calls were answered by a man’s voice who told them that her husband was already dead.
“Monday night 9:30, kami na mismo tumawag. Iba na humawak ng cellphone niya, ang sabi patay na. Doon na namin na-confirm na talagang wala na siya. Nasama siya sa mga pinatay,” she said.
The Parcon family is enraged by the manner in which the massacre victims were killed.
“Sobra-sobra ang ginawa nila. Demonyo na po ang gumawa ng ganun. Para sa akin, hindi sila tao. Hindi magagawa yun ng ordinaryong tao na nasa matinong pagiisip po,” she said.
Like the rest of the families who only rely on the meager salaries of their husbands, Mrs. Parcon now worries about the future of her children.
“Problema lang mga anak na naiwan. The only source of income is pagiging mediamen ng asawa. Paano po yung mga umaasa lang sa asawa na may maliliit pa na anak?” she asked. With ANC