BAGUIO CITY – The Marcos Jr.’s administration again vowed it is assuring media workers it will continue to
safeguard media freedom in the country by protecting the life, rights, safety and liberty of all journalists and media practitioners. The Presidential Task Force on Media Security in solemn commemoration of the 13th anniversary of the Maguindanao Massacre on Tuesday quoted Marcos Jr., in his recent message before the Manila Oversees Press Club (MPOC), “Under my lead, we will support and protect the rights of the media as they efficiently perform their duty.

Whatever difficulties we may encounter from this point on, the government will always be ready to lend an ear and to listen to your concerns and to answer all that you may want to know.” PTFoMS stressed, “the
safety and security of all members of the press is a primary concern of the Marcos Administration.” On Tuesday, the whole nation especially journalists in the country commemorated the 13th year of the so-called Maguindanao Massacre when a convoy of about 58 people on their way to Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao to file a certificate of candidacy was ambushed and killed.

Among those murdered were at least 31 journalists and media workers. The incident made the Philippines place up to 2nd in the Global Impunity Index (GII) released by the Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ), a US-based media advocacy group. But PTFoMS noted that on December 19, 2019, the nation became a beacon for justice when members of the Ampatuan clan including Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr. and Zaldy
Ampatuan were convicted by Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City of 57 counts of murder along with 27 other accused as principals, sentencing them to reclusion Perpetua without parole, while 15 others were sentenced to 6–10 years for being accessories.

The court also awarded damages to the victims in the total amount of more than PHP155 million, to be paid in solidum by all those convicted. Through an appeal filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), the decision of the court acquitting SPO2 Badawi Bakal was reversed by the Court of Appeals on 14 June 2021, finding him guilty as an accessory to the crime, and was sentenced to 4 to 10 years of imprisonment.

To date, a total of 45 accused have been convicted for the massacre. While they have appealed their
convictions, they remain incarcerated to this day. By serving justice to those responsible for this heinous crime, the Philippines has come a long way in protecting media workers and went down by five notches in
CPJ’s infamous index to its much better present ranking of 7th place, the PTFoMS pointed out.  ”It is expected that due to the unwavering commitment of President Marcos to protect the rights and safety of journalists, it is only a matter of time before the country is removed from the said index,” it added.

Art Dumlao/ABN

Amianan Balita Ngayon