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23 Nov 2012
Protesters carried 153 mock coffins through Manila today to commemorate slain media workers and highlight the culture of impunity that still reigns in the Philippines.
The coffins represented the number of journalists killed since 1986, 32 of whom were slain three years ago today in the Maguindanao massacre - the deadliest single attack on journalists in recent history.
The procession of journalists, media groups, press freedom advocates and families of the victims also fell on the second International Day to End Impunity for the killers of journalists around the globe. The perpetrators escape justice nine times out of 10.
“This was to reiterate our call for the government to firmly address the killings, put an end to the culture of impunity and ensure that the Maguindanao massacre trial proceeds unhampered,” said INSI's South-East Asia representative Red Batario, who joined the procession.
The 58 victims of the massacre, including the 32 journalists, were part of an electoral convoy on its way to to file a certificate of candidacy for Esmael Mangudadatu, vice mayor of Buluan town, for the local elections in 2010.
The convoy was ambushed by armed men, allegedly associated with the Ampatuan clan, a rival political family to the Mangudadatus.
The massacre has yet to lead to any convictions after three years. Only 103 of 196 suspects have been arrested.
According to a statement by the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP), families of the victims are losing hope in the Philippines justice system, despite President Benigno Aquino III promising a thorough investigation.
“Only two of the eight Ampatuan clan members [Andal Sr. and his son Andal Jr.] in jail have been arraigned,” the statement said.
“Some witnesses have died. Some relatives of the victims have fled their home towns following receipt of death threats.”
Five journalists have been killed in the Philippines in 2012, according to INSI figures. It is not clear whether their deaths were directly connected to their work.
Photo: Filipino journalists and supporters marched carrying mock coffins during a rally to denounce killings of journalists in suburban Manila, Philippines on Friday Nov. 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)