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Philippine bishop tells massacre victims' families not to lose hope

Protesters observe sixth anniversary of country's deadliest day for journalists

Joe Torres, Manila

Joe Torres, Manila

Updated: November 22, 2015 10:56 PM GMT
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Philippine bishop tells massacre victims' families not to lose hope

Student journalists call for justice for the victims of the Maguindanao massacre during a Nov. 23 protest in Manila. (Photo by Vincent Go)

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A Catholic bishop in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao told families and friends of 58 people killed in a massacre six years ago not to lose hope despite the long wait for justice.

"Pray until something happens. Let's not be discouraged. Have faith and courage. God will never abandon us," said Bishop Martin Jumoad of Basilan.

"Let's continue our advocacy for justice and peace," said the bishop as the country marked on Nov. 23 the sixth anniversary of the massacre in Maguindanao province, in which 32 of the victims were media workers.

"Let's not sit down ... instead [we] push so that truth will prevail," Bishop Jumoad said.

Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of Marbel, also in Mindanao, said the government's wrong priorities coupled with "inefficiency, lack of will and corruption" has contributed to the failure so far to implement justice.

 

Day of protests for journalists 

Journalists and media workers marched in Manila on Nov. 23 to show their "disgust" over the government's failure to deliver justice for the killings of the journalists. 

Joel Egco, president of the National Press Club of the Philippines, said the promise of President Benigno Aquino to bring the perpetrators of the 2009 killings to justice "remains empty."

"It is but right to tell [Aquino] how disgusted we are at his administration's weak efforts in curbing media killings and in addressing the culture of violence and of impunity that threatens us all," Egco told ucanews.com.

The Manila-based Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility described the 2009 incident as the "single most deadly incident in the history of the Philippine media."

In February 2010, some 200 people, including several powerful politicians, were indicted in connection with the slayings. 

The case, however, became mired by a flurry of motions filed by the defendants's lawyers. Several charges have been dropped against some of the accused, while some suspects remain at large. 

Several witnesses reported threats to their lives or that they were offered large amounts of money to change their testimony. At least four witnesses and three relatives of the massacre victims have been killed. 

Six years after the slaying, not a single suspect has been convicted. 

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