The University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP-CMC) stood up united one year after the Maguindanao massacre in calling for immediate justice for its victims.
“Nais naming iparating ang mga paulit-ulit at walang tigil naming panawagan para sa isang makatao at makatarungang pamahalaan na nagpapahalaga sa hustisya,” said Sherwin Su, CMC student council chairperson.
Journalism professor and activist Danny Arao called it a “global day of action to commemorate the Ampatuan massacre.”
Students, faculty members, and staff gathered to unveil a marker to symbolize continuous remembrance and struggles for the 58 victims, including 32 media workers.
“Patuloy nating isusulong ang kalayaan sa pamamahayag at lalaban ang anumang pagsupil dito,” the metal-plated marker stated.
The unveiling went side by side with the new name of the lobby where it stood. The former ‘generic’ name of Old Film Lobby is now called the Press Freedom Hall.
Roland Tolentino, the college dean, said the Press Freedom Hall for one thing is a remembrance but also a reminder on the detrimental status of journalism in the country.
He said the Maguindanano massacre has a huge ‘chilling effect’ to the academe who teach the practice of journalism to students.
“Pero kahit na sinasabing ito ang worst of times, ito rin ang best of times para maging journalist sa bansa natin,” Tolentino added.
Stop the Killings, Disband Private Armies
UP-CMC also released a statement on the demands of the college to the administration in order for the killings to be stopped, and justice be served immediately.
The college calls on the mass community to support prosecution of those behind the killings. It also urging the Aquino administration to disband paramilitary groups carrying out the killings.
“It is an indispensable part of the imperative of trying and punishing the killers of journalists and political activists, and to dismantling the culture of impunity,” the statement said.
The statement, upon its reading, was signed by 31 faculty members, 10 staff, and 160 students.
Tolentino had three wishes for ‘optimum dispensation of justice’ for the massacre victims.
“Una, ang katarungan sa sistema ng korte sa Pilipinas,” he said.
He said with the current system of the judiciary, it slows down the process of prosecuting the suspects.
“Ikalawa ay gawing thorough ang investigation at prosecution. Ikatlo ay tigilan na itong warlord culture kung saan nagperpetuate ang violence sa massacre na ito,” he added.
Days before the anniversary, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines petitioned for a live coverage of the trial beginning December 1.
President Aquino supported the petition. The Supreme Court is still studying the petition.
“Sa pamamagitan ng pagtelevise, magkakaroon ng interes na ituloy-tuloy ito kaysa ngayon na paputol-putol ang coverage ng trial,” Tolentino said.
After the unveiling of the marker, UP-CMC went on for a march around the University Academic Oval joined by organizations such as World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC), Muslim Students Association (MSA), Bangon Pilipinas, University Student Council (USC), Student Catholic Action (SCA), and Solidaridad (alliance of UP Diliman’s student publications), and All-UP Workers Union.
In an interview with MSA president Mohammad Asnin Pendatun, he said the Muslim community have always felt ashamed whenever the Maguindanao massacre is mentioned.
“Nadadamay kami samantalang ang pinangyarihan lang nman ng massacre ay napakaliit na lugar lang,” Pendatun said.
He said some people in Maguindanao have evacuated to avoid conflicts and further deaths.
“Dahil sa Ampatuan massacre, napilitan na lang silang makipagsapalaran sa ibang lugar,” he added. Pendatun is a native of Maguindanao.