Is the Maguindanao Massacre being commemorated in memory only of the 32 dead journalists?

Check out this screen grab from the website captured at 1000H Australian EDST, 24 Nov 2012:

Caption on photo reads as follows:

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Protesters gather in Mendiola to commemorate the third anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre. Behind them are the 32 coffins representing the journalists who were among the 58 killed in Sharif Aguak on Nov. 23, 2009.

Is it really always about the dead journalists?

What about the other 26 “ordinary” people who also died in that massacre? Aren’t they worthy of being represented by 26 additional coffins in this protest rally? Are they not good enough to be included in their “cry for justice”?

So 32 journalists were killed in Maguindanao two years ago (the fact that these were journalists probably accounts for the place the story holds in the hierarchy of priority stories that take up Media space and minutes). That, of course, is something to grieve and express outrage about on a national scale. Perhaps the attention it gets is so considering how death on such a scale can happen within such a short span of time — and one that involves journalists no less.

But see as I recall — and wrote about — back then, there were 57 victims. What disturbs me is that I see a lot of 32’s being quoted in the various blurbs coming out of the damp woodwork today but not much of the 57’s. Is it because 32 is the more significant number to cite?

29 Replies to “Is the Maguindanao Massacre being commemorated in memory only of the 32 dead journalists?”

  1. You can take out the word “journalists” and insert the word “filipino” and get same inconsiderate sentiment. How many times in the early stages of a disaster overseas do you hear or read sentiment, pray that there are no Filipinos? Like we are some higher life form. Sorry, I always believed that to be racist. A life is a life is a life whether from Marikina or Malyasia or the Maldives. In your case or your piece, whether it’s a journalist or a campaign volunteer.

  2. Even in the context of concurrent events this week, the maguindanao incident’s place in the discussion hierarchy of the chatterati didn’t seem very high, either. What happened concurrently with the “commemoration” were the Gaza situation and the US Thanksgiving.

    The Gaza situation was highlighted because of Filipinos in that area who were affected. It seems not too many of the OFW’s want to go home to the Philippines despite the great risk in that area.

    The US Thanksgiving holiday is not supposed to mean anything to us, but the proliferation of Pinoy call center agents who support the US somehow contributed to its emphasis. It’s one of the few long holidays they get when they follow US holidays. The buzz generated also affirms that the “umbilical cord” attached between the Philippines and the US is intact. On top of that, the Black Friday sales are opportunities for the palamunins to get their US goods cheap.

    The Maguindanao incident commemoration? Well, the case hasn’t progressed much in three (3) years, has it? Just like other commemorations, it has become a mindset of “keep remembering the past, keep forgetting the lesson.”

  3. As usual, the Maguindanao Massacre is used for an agenda. It was used back then to hit then-President Arroyo, even when no evidence was there to back any connection of the massacre to her.

    So that’s how Philippine media does it. When a mediaman is killed, it’s one of the greatest crimes. But when someone else, say a vagrant or farmer (Hacienda Luisita Massacre), is killed, never mind?

    1. If their logic was that it happened under Arroyo’s watch, despite there not being any connection to her, as you said, then we can also say that the case has not been solved under BS Aquino’s watch either. He vowed to “right the wrongs” done under the Arroyo administration; this is supposedly one of them. So where’s the big loud indignation of the snail-pace resolution of this case under BS Aquino’s watch?

    2. No connection to GMA? Are you dreaming? She created the Ampatuans. Haven’t you seen the high-powered machine guns and ammo stashed in the Ampatuan houses? The boxes bore the DND – Dept of Defense seal. The Ampatuans even have armored vehicles! And GMA signed the EO 546 which allowed the Ampatuans to create militias. The EO was signed right after the assassination attempt on Andal, Sr. GMA’s military and police gave protection to the Ampatuans in all their illegal activities. GMA of the Strong Republic gave so much power (including appointing the Ampatuans to various govt positions) to the Ampatuans so that they could kill with impunity. In fact, GMA used them to fight the MILF.

      Nobody in the Philippines, however powerful locally, would attempt to kill dozens of people, including incumbent politicians and dozens of media men, unless he/she/they have the support of the military, police and yes, even the President of the Philippines!

      1. Sorry dionysus, but YOU have it wrong. The Ampatuan clan have been in Maguindanao since before the Cory administration. Cory in fact installed Andal Ampatuan Sr. as Officer-in-Charge of Maganoy, Maguindanao immediately following the 1986 People Power Revolution. He replaced an aging Pinagayaw Ampatuan. Andal Sr. went on to win the Mayor’s office in 1988 and was eventually voted in as governor of the province.

        As members of Lakas-CMD, the Ampatuans are close allies of Gloria Arroyo and delivered Maguindanao for her in the 2004 elections. That kind of power is localized and would exist regardless of Gloria Arroyo or BS Aquino.

        1. And last I heard, the Ampatuans now became supporters of Aquino. Whoever’s up there, they’ll “lick the boot.” Though they still retain control of their own fiefdom.

        2. TROLL. 😛

          The Ampatuans were a long issue before GMA and no one checked on them, nor even Mindanao. PERIOD.

      2. One thing you may be right in is… no one would be able to put many people at risk… such as retrenching over 200 employees of RPN 9 without paying them… without the support of the President perhaps?

      3. GMA created the Ampatuans? lol! its like your saying she’s to blame for every Trapos, Oligarchs, and Private Armies that plagued the Philippines from the past, the present, and the future, wow! she is really the evil reincarnate that transcends time and space!

      4. The Ampatuans only show more blatantly what the Philippines is until today: a tribal society. Political leaders = datus and rajas, with some rajas lording it over local datus provincewide and nationwide. And clans that basically run the country. And most people are connected to one clan or the other, sometimes switching sides. For my part I do not care whether the clans are called Arroyo, Aquino, Marcos, Osmeña, Romualdez, Ampatuan or whatever, the differences are mainly in detail and in degree.

  4. I find it deplorable that for something so serious, the media have to stage a circus event around it. It reduces the “massacre” to a spectacle — something to gossip about after you devote all of five minutes to it. They certainly haven’t added any new insight to the tragedy. Instead, they diminished its importance by making it about themselves, not the fifty seven people who were murdered.

  5. The event staged yesterday to commemorate the Maguindanao Massacre was organized by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines. They did it to demand justice for their colleagues. The non-journalists who died in that massacre were relatives and colleagues of the Mangudadatus. The Mangudadatus are powerful politicians, with Toto Mangudadatu as Governor of Maguindanao.

    The Mangudadatus can very well see to it that their relatives and colleagues be given justice. They have the means to do so. On the other hand, the poor journalists who were murdered have left their loved ones penniless. These people need the help of other journalists and other freedom-loving Filipinos to carry on the fight for justice for them.

    1. Are you saying now that journalists deserve special treatment because they are journalists? Or that the Mangudadatus deserve less because they are a political family?

      1. Don’t be ridiculous. I never said anything of the sort. Read the comment again and try to understand it before making comments off the cuff. I simply pointed out that dionysus’ comment implies that there are different standards of justice in the Philippines. One for politicians and their families, one for so-called journalists and one for the rest of the citizenry. Treating any person or group differently, or giving them special consideration, under the law because of their occupation or their family name is a ludicrous notion. It has no place in a democracy.

        1. It was Dionysus I was aiming at. Yeah, there are different standards of justice, but it seems journalists are getting up there with the politicians for special treatment. Or maybe journalists who side with the politicians currently sitting.

  6. The 32 common people are people also. They were killed for no reason. These Killers are cruel, power hungry, and just want to kill people. It was the worse event that happened in our country. Senseless killings are happening in our country. However, this was the worst senseless killing; just because of politics…

    1. Maguindanao Massacre one of the worst events of Pilipinas and PersiNoynoy was not there and Malakanyang did not send anybody to the commemoration ceremonies. In fact, Inquirer-dot- net reports that PersiNoy has said nothing at all in remembrance of the massacre.

      EXCEPT of course, the blame-game where PersiNoy blames the judges for slowing things down ( Harry Roque commented that the pace of the case is determined by the PROSECUTION which… ahem…. reports to Malakanyang ).

  7. “Treating any person or group differently, or giving them special consideration, under the law because of their occupation or their family name is a ludicrous notion. It has no place in a democracy.”

    HEAR, HEAR! We tried explaining this to our local politicians and the only response we got was a blank stare.

    1. T4Man,

      That’s because most of our politicians get into politics precisely to secure special treatment for themselves. Specifically to place them above the law.

  8. Matthew 8:22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

    In a country with distorted justice system where wrong can be justified in whatever convenient manner and passively accepted just like a common norm, the relatives of the victims of the Maguindanao massacre can cry for justice until they and all their generations passes away but would rest in their elusive quest.

    They are victims of a distorted and undisciplined culture which they are part in promulgating and tolerating it. All they can aspire for is to hope that the glimmer of light in the distance is not that of a rushing freight train.

    1. Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

      “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!'”

      And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

      — Luke 18:1-8, New International Version

      To be clear — the parable demonstrates the need to persevere, for if even an unjust judge will eventually listen, God will be much quicker to answer prayers for justice. We sit here complaining about the state of our distorted justice system and leave it to fester. Shouldn’t we be doing something about it? We complain about tolerating an undisciplined culture. What is our answer to correct it?

  9. Bob Dietz with the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has been monitoring developments since the massacre three years ago. He says that while President Benigno Aquino has demonstrated political will in going after corruption nationally, the Maguindanao trial is not a highlight of those efforts.

    “But what we’re not seeing is a greater push in the Maguindanao trial and bringing people – not just to bring the trial to a close… but so many of the suspects are still at large and they just haven’t been brought in, and what we’re wondering is why that hasn’t happened under President Aquino,” Dietz says.

    At a news briefing Thursday, the president’s spokesman said their office understands the concerns “totally” and has “time and again” made its plea to the court system to expedite the process.

    University of the Philippines Law Professor Theodore Te says the delay is happening because the judicial system is treating it like an ordinary case – not a massacre of 58 people that has drawn international attention.

    “That the government has really not invested too much of its resources, too much of its passions in trying to get this case off the ground is, I think, is sad,” Te says. “Because I think it deserves more than the effort that government has put into it.”

    Te, a human rights advocate who usually takes the defense side in the courtroom, is not involved in the Maguindanao massacre trial. He says the Department of Justice should have dedicated about two dozen prosecutors to the case and allowed most of the current proceedings to be part of the pretrial and prep work.

    The Justice Secretary this week also decried the lagging pace of what many are calling a trial with “no end in sight.”

    Taken from

    I’ve noticed that the trial system in the Philippines uses a ridiculous amount of court time to do what should be covered in preliminary work. Why do politicians like slow trials? Hmmmm…I wonder…..could it be….say…DELAY TACTICS?

  10. this is because journalists are revered as living saints in modern ph culture
    they are depicted as martial law survivors (with a majority of them not yet haing been born at the time yet, *snicker*), forerunners of truth and justice, defenders of the weak and voice of the people.
    haha i almost shit my pants typing that last line

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