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Philippines

Nation’s bells to toll for victims of Maguindanao

Joe Torres, Manila

Joe Torres, Manila

Updated: November 22, 2010 09:22 AM GMT
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A Filipino journalist lights candles in memory of colleagues who died during the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre
A Filipino journalist lights candles in memory of colleagues who died during the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre
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Church bells in parishes across the Philippines will toll for 57 seconds on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the killing of 57 people, 32 of them journalists, in the province of Maguindanao on Nov. 23, 2009. Reports say 58 people died during the massacre but only 57 bodies were recovered. "We pray for justice and peace," said Cotabato Auxiliary Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. Father Anton Pascual, president of Church-run Radio Veritas 846, said the simultaneous ringing of church bells would be a tribute to the victims of the gruesome killing. "The Church is joining the struggle in asking the government to finish the trial promptly because justice delayed is justice denied," said Father Pascual. Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros and Antipolo Auxiliary Bishop Francisco De Leon issued pastoral guidelines to the clergy to include in their homilies the lessons of the incident. Bishop De Leon said the activities should create public awareness "to stop once and for all the culture of death." "This is an encouragement to the Filipino people to unite, forgive and pray for the eternal salvation and justice for the victims," said Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles. Live media coverage The National Press Club, meanwhile, called for the setting up of a special court that will hear the case against the alleged perpetrators of the crime. "If possible, hearings of the case should be held daily," said NPC president Jerry Yap. He lamented that the trial has been dragging on, with motions and petitions taking up most of the once-a-week hearings. Yap also supported President Benigno Aquino III’s call for a live media coverage of the massacre trial. Several Catholic bishops earlier expressed support for the president’s call. Masses, marches and motorcades Masses, marches and motorcades by various media and cause-oriented groups are scheduled on Tuesday to mark the first anniversary of the massacre. The NPC and activist groups are set to stage a “mock trial” to pass sentence on the suspected killers. Bishop Bagaforo, meanwhile, appealed to the Armed Forces and the police “to provide maximum security and protection for all those who would like to commemorate the first anniversary of the massacre.” Related reports Journalists tell Aquino to back press freedom Press Week prayers for slain Filipino journalists PR12091.1629

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