A hundred days have passed since the massacre of 57 men and women, 32 of them journalists and media workers, in Maguindanao. While the principal suspect has been indicted, his petition for bail has been the subject of near-hearings and postponements, in a portent of things to come that’s not encouraging for the demand for justice for the victims.
The demand for justice is in danger of foundering on the shoals of the technicalities that– together with police collusion at the local levels in the killing of journalists, overworked prosecutors who fear for their safety, and the involvement of local officials and warlords— constitute the weaknesses of the Philippine justice system. There is also the information, relayed by one of the private lawyers helping prosecute the case, of witnesses being bought if not threatened, and of relatives being offered amounts that few mortals in the Philippine community setting can refuse in exchange for withdrawing their complaints.
Add public indifference and resignation, and the mass media’s own short attention span and susceptibility to the lure of reporting those events that help boost ratings and circulations to these problems and issues, and we have the potential for the massacre’s not only going unredressed, but what’s probably even worse, forgotten.
Forgetfulness is among the worst vices of a people whom the media have failed to provide information crucial to their lives. And yet, forgetfulness is the sure guarantee for the repetition of such atrocities as the Ampatuan massacre, the human rights violations–such as the Morong 43 atrocity that victimized, among others, former CMC Student Council Chair Jacqueline Gonzales–that continue to haunt this country, and the constant peril of authoritarian rule.
The schools and the media are among the institutions crucial to the fostering of the imperative of keeping in the public mind the need for justice in the Ampatuan massacre and for the making of a culture of remembrance. As we enter the fourth month since that atrocity, the UP College of Mass Communication renews its pledge never to forget and to continue to remind the public as well as its constituencies—its students, faculty and staff—that at this point in Philippine history, only the pro-active engagement of a militant people and a truly free and responsible press can prevent the many crimes that haunt this country from going unpunished and repeated.
Dean Roland Tolentino
FORMER CMC DEANS: Dean Luis Teodoro, Dean Nicanor Tiongson, Dean Georgina Encanto
FACULTY: Prof. Rachel Khan, Ms. Lucia Tangi, Prof. Marichu Lambino, Prof. Rosa Maria Feliciano, Prof. Lisa Carmelita Justiniani, Prof. Jane Vinculado, Prof. Melba Estonilo, Ms. Roxanne Cipriano, Prof. Alfonso Deza, Dr. Lourdes Portus, Dr. Jose Lacson Jr., Prof. Eduardo Lejano Jr., Prof. Roehl Jamon, Prof. Patrick Campos, Prof. Yason Banal, Prof. Danilo Arao, Prof. Elizabeth Enriquez, Prof. Libay Cantor, Prof. Lourdes Simbulan
LECTURERS: Ms. Daphne Canlas-Tolentino, Ms. Irma Mutuc, Ms. Almond Pilar Aguilar, Mr. Jose Reuben Alagaran, Ms. Malou De Guzman, Mr. Jose Gutierrez III
STAFF: Gina Villegas, Berinice Zamora, Arnel Aga, Raquelita Bacarra, Clarissa Concepcion, Marianita Cinco, Placida Sodoy, Irene Balucos, Luis Olid Jr., Virginia Rigo, Norma Dampil, Fortunata Mendiola, Romeo Perdigon, Ruben Serrano, Jonathan Beldia, Florencio Palma, Guillermo Lectura, Reynaldo Villaruz, Armando Hirao, Luzviminda Ileto, Janette Pamaylaon