Int'l Day to End Impunity

Article excerpt

MANILA, Philippines - November 23 has been chosen by the Toronto-based International Freedom of Expression Exchange or IFEX as the "First International Day to End Impunity," a global call to demand justice for those who have been persecuted for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

It is the day of commemoration of the massacre which killed 32 of our local journalists. The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), member of IFEX, a network of 95 free expression and free press organizations worldwide notes that 121 journalists in the country have been killed in the line of duty since democracy was restored in 1986.

A march led by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ) will be held at the Maguindanao massacre site today. About 300 journalists and media workers are expected to participate, according to Nestor Burgos, NUJP chair. Burgos had earlier expressed disappointment at the slow progress in the Ampatuan trial as only two have been arraigned and only 93 out of the hundreds of accused are in jail.

In addition to electoral sabotage, the basis for the arrest warrant issued to Rep. Gloria Arroyo, a lawyer of the victims said that the group will file a civil case today for her alleged role in the Maguindanao massacre.

It will be remembered that it was the testimony of the suspected principals in the Maguindanao massacre (Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. and provincial administrator Norie Unas) that had triggered the investigation on the 2007 electoral fraud. More witnesses are expected to surface in the Comelec investigation this week.

I remember too well when the news on what is considered as the "single deadliest day for journalists in history" broke out. We were at the first Justice Cecilia Munoz Palma Foundation Awards dinner at the Edsa Shangrila Hotel where several present and past Supreme Court justices and other dignitaries were present.

It was a night of celebration - to honor an awardee on peace and development. I felt a sense of foreboding after I read a text message about an ongoing ambush in Mindanao that was passed around. It was only the following day when we learned that most of the 58 (one is yet to be found) were women and journalists. …