Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Filipino journalists light candles in memory of slain colleagues

Members of the Zamboanga Cityy Press club and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines light candles late Wednesday, December 9, 2009 in the memory of 30 journalists who were among 57 people brutally killed last month in Maguindanao province. Journalists on Wednesday also visited the mass graves where the masaacre victims were discovered on November 23. Police say at least 161 gunmen led by the scion of a powerful political warlord, Andal Ampatuan Jnr, the mayor of Datu Unsay town in Maguindanao province, led the attack. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / December 9, 2009) – Dozens of journalists on Wednesday lit candles in the memory of 30 colleagues who were among 57 brutally killed last month in the southern Maguindanao province.

Members of the Zamboanga City Press Club and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines also held a prayer and read a statement demanding justice for all those murdered November 23 in the town of Ampatuan.

“We must not rest until each and every criminal charged and meted the punishment due them – for it’s only thru this that we can at least say that justice has been served. Our campaign for the pursuit of justice must be relentless and focused. Let us not leave any stone unturned until all these have been brought to light,” the statement said.

The two media organizations said 106 journalists have been murdered in the Philippines since President Gloria Arroyo took power in 2001. They said the Philippines has been regarded as the most dangerous country in the world for journalists.

“The death of our colleagues is rooted by the failure of the government to put a stop to the culture of impunity in our society. As we join the global campaign against impunity, we are urging not only the government, but the public as a whole, not to let the Ampatuan massacre be passed without giving justice to our colleagues,” the statement further reads.

A group of journalists also visited Wednesday the mass graves in Ampatuan town and offered prayers and candles for the souls of those slain in the attack allegedly led by the scion of a powerful political warlord, Andal Ampatuan Jnr, who is the mayor of Datu Unsay town.

The victims were on a convoy when more than 160 gunmen held them in the Ampatuan stronghold of Shariff Aguak town and herded all of the victims to Ampatuan town where they were shot in the face and body and buried in three mass graves, along with three of their vehicles.

The journalists were accompanying the wife and sisters, and supporters of Buluan town vice mayor Esmael Mangudadatu who is running for governor of Maguindanao, which is currently being held by Ampatuan’s father and namesake, who is also the governor of the province.

Both father and son, along with Zaldy Ampatuan, the governor of the Muslim autonomous region, and several clan members were arrested in connection to the mass murders. They denied involvements in the killings. (Mindanao Examiner)

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