TEN years ago, 58 individuals, including 32 journalists who were supposed to be at the filing of the certificate of candidacy of then gubernatorial bet Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, were killed in a bloody massacre in Maguindanao. But up to this day, justice has yet to be served.
Often referred to as the single most deadly assault on journalists in the world, the infamous massacre is believed to have been perpetrated by the Ampatuans, a powerful clan closely allied to then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The Ampatuan family was the one in power when Mangudadatu decided to seek the governorship in the province.
Years have already passed and the children of the victims are now grown-ups. What’s taking the government so long to convict the perpetrators of the deadly attack on defenseless civilians? Truly, we have nothing but words to condemn this injustice not only to the victims’ families but to all those victimized by regimes who are afraid of dissent and of losing helms.
Trials on the gruesome massacre have already witnessed the terms of three various administrations but justice remains elusive. It is outrageous to know how they have set aside the cry for justice of the victims’ families. But what is more enraging is the fact that governments took part in furthering the repression of people’s rights. At present, the attacks on the freedom of the press and on the people’s right to free expression are relentless.
In 2012, then President Benigno Aquino III signed the Cybercrime Prevention Act, a law that would later be weaponized by the succeeding administration to harass and threaten anyone critical of it. It has also weaponized social media to harass known critics. Paid trolls spread misinformation.
Yes, the climate of impunity has worsened. We should hold governments accountable. The truth will always prevail in the end.