Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Journalists in the brutal frontline

Journalism is one of the most dangerous profession.
There is no harder evidence than the recent massacre in Maguindanao where at least eighteen of the more than fifty slain victims were journalists.
The killing of journalists was literally an assault---in the deadliest fashion---on press freedom.
Journalists were deliberately killed so they cannot report what was to transpire last Monday, which was to kill the women on their way to file the certificate of candidacy of a gubernatorial candidate Esmael “Toto” Mangundadatu.
It is sad that journalists were placed in the frontline of violence.
In this case, I fully agree that the journalists were asked to accompany the groups in a bid to hopefully dissuade the rival powerful political faction from executing their planned violence.
In a way, the slain journalists were made as human shields.
It was wrong calculation.
But the killers were out to kill, whether or not they were journalists.
The killers had no respect for human dignity.
How would you expect them to have respect for the profession?
This act is condemnable.
It was inhuman.
I am not sure if the powerful people behind the mass slayings will be brought to justice.
Maguindanao is in the spotlight of election cheating.
So many of our national leaders owe tons to powerful politicians running the province of Maguindano.
As a matter of fact, Maguindanao single-handedly produced a senator.
That is why the Philippines has a senator from the province of Maguindanao, even if that senator is not from that place.
He was supposed to have lost in the last senatorial elections, but Maguindanao made him a winner.
Those who are suspected to be the brains behind the massacre last Monday may have an ace up their sleeves.
National leaders owe them a debt of gratitude (utang na loob).
That is why bringing them to justice may not be that easy.
Elections in Maguidnao is so unique.
The reason it is unique is because during elections, everything happens except the elections.
And what is magical, winners are proclaimed.
Those election cheating you witness in your locality, they are peanuts compared to the magic of elections in Maguindanao.
In that province, you witness fake ballots, lost election returns, disappearance of certificates of canvass.
Why, even their election supervisor disappears (where is Lentang Bedol?)
Yet, winners are proclaimed by the Comelec.
It’s a different kind of democracy there.
Now that the powerful politicians are being threatened by a former ally, they resort to violence.
And kill the innocent.
Journalists who sought to witness the filing of certificates of candidacies would have wanted to cover the initial salvo of the unique electoral process in Maguindanao.
The journalists did not even reach first base.
They were brutally silenced by people who kill in the name of politics.
By the way, one of those killed was a lawyer and sister in the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP).
Last Tuesday I received a forwarded text message from Bro Pepot Fortich (BCBP Cagayan de Oro), coming from Bro Jun Dacut (BCBP GenSan):
"Let us pray for the repose of the soul of SIS CYNTHIA AYON who was included in the SENSELESS n BRUTAL MASSACRE in MAGUINDANAO. Let us also pray for her bereaved family in this very sad moment of their lives..."
We join the call to bring the perpetrators to justice.
We should not settle for anything less.

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