Stop killing journalists!
Justice for the victims of the Maguindanao massacre!
The Antonio Zumel Center for Press Freedom joins the families and
colleagues of the victims of the 23rd November Maguindanao massacre in
mourning their senseless and violent deaths, and in condemning in the
strongest terms the masterminds and perpetrators of this demonic act. Of
the reported 64 victims, 30 are community journalists in Mindanao.
We join the call for an international fact-finding committee led by
writers and journalists organizations, to investigate this carnage and
bring justice for the victims and their families.
It has become clear to us that greed for political power drove the
Ampatuan clan to commit this most abominable crime. It has also become
clear to us that culpability for the carnage goes way up not only to the
high officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Police, but
also to the Presidential Palace. The obvious perpetrators of the crime
have ruled with force and impunity the province of Maguindanao because
they have the imprimatur of Gloria Arroyo and the high officials of the
AFP and Police.
It does not come as a surprise to us that according to witnesses and
evidence so far gathered, the massacre was premeditated and targeted the
journalist-victims, and that the Police and the AFP were involved. Under
the Arroyo government, journalists are seen as enemies of the state.
Nowhere is this most evident than in the grim figures on the number of
journalists killed, imprisoned or disappeared. Killing journalists has
become state policy as evidenced by the counter-insurgency program of the
AFP, Oplan Bantay Laya, targeting journalists among others, as state
But like other professionals who suffer the brunt of state violence and
warlordism, Filipino journalists are holding their ground, despite the
abominations they face. They continue to be dedicated and committed to
reporting the truth – about human rights violations, political killings
and disappearances, political warlordism, landgrabbing by big business and
big landlords, and the unbridled graft and corruption from down the local
police and AFP units up to the high levels of the AFP command and the
While we mourn this latest attack on journalists, we also celebrate the
forging of greater unity and solidarity among all journalists, regardless
of political persuasion, and of the further political isolation of those
responsible for this attack not only upon journalists but also against
unarmed, defenseless citizens waylaid along the way because they seek
truth, justice and the defense of the poor and exploited.
Antonio Zumel Center for Press Freedom
30 November 2009