RELATIVES, friends and colleagues of the 58 people, including 32 journalists, who died in the Maguindanao massacre assailed the Aquino administration for its lack of concern for justice on the sixth anniversary of what has been called “the single deadliest event for journalists in history.”
Accompanied by relatives of the deceased, the National Press Club of the Philippines, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and other media organizations separately lashed at the Aquino administration’s supposed failure to deliver on its promises of justice.
The NPC picketed the Department of Justice and later proceeded to Mendiola Street, in the area of Malacañang Palace, to demand justice for the victims and dramatize their disappointment over the snail-paced action on the 58 counts of murder filed against the crime’s alleged perpetrators.
NPC president Joel Sy Egco led members in burning an effigy of the President and branding Aquino as “Pnoy-cchio” because of his supposed lies when he vowed to seek justice for the 58 victims when he was still campaigning for President.
The NUJP, also marched to Mendiola Street in San Miguel, Manila, lamented that several, if not all, of “the victims’ families even campaigned for him, so much did they believe in his promise of justice.”
“But here we are six years later, and Aquino also on the eve of winding up his own six years, with no justice, no good governance, no FOI, in probably worse straits than when we started,” NUJP president Alwyn Alburo said.
The NUJP criticized that “the trial of the accused is still barely out of the starting gates, with the clan patriarch now beyond the reach of earthly justice, one of his sons out on bail and running for mayor because the prosecution incredulously failed to prove his participation despite his presence at the meeting where the slaughter was decided and planned, and close to half of the suspects still free.”
“It is not encouraging at all, not by any standard. Indeed, the Ampatuan Massacre may well be the symbol of Noynoy Aquino’s term: a rutted, crooked path strewn with broken promises and a trail of blood,” Alburo said.
“Not because of what he has done but, even worse, because he has done nothing for the simple reason that he simply does not care,” he added.
But Malacañang said it continues to look for closure on the case, but its hands are practically tied with the trial ongoing before the judicial branch.
“It’s already with the judicial branch of government. So what can you expect from us? In the normal course of things, the executive branch is like the ordinary citizen also waiting the outcome of the trial,” said Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.
Lacierda said it is unfair for the NUJP to blame Aquino for what they perceive to be his lack of political will and involvement.
“The conduct of the case itself has to be decided by the judge. I believe it is unfair for NUJP to accuse the President, to accuse the executive branch of lacking political will,” Lacierda said.
“We can say our concerns, we can voice our concern. But it is the Supreme Court, it is the court itself that has the final say on the Ampatuan trial,” he added.
“Make no mistake, we are very concerned also. We would certainly like to have the trial of the Ampatuan case hastened as well. In fact, we do want to see a decision before the President leaves office,” Lacierda said.
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