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NUJP - Canada commemorates 3rd year anniversary of Ampatuan massacre in solidarity with foreign-trained journalists

Updated on November 28, 2012

Toronto - On November 24, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP Canada Chapter) held a Prayer-Memorial and Seminar Workshop commemorating the 3rd year anniversary of the Ampatuan massacre at the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) Education Centre, 31 Wellesley Street in Toronto.

The Prayer/Memorial was attended by Filipinos and foreign-trained journalists coming from Latin America and Europe as well as union members from OPSEU, Greater Toronto Area Council, caregivers and professors from Humber College. Many of the participants expressed outrage at the number of people and journalists killed in one day and the slow pace of justice. A photo exhibit and enlarged photos of the massacre site and memorial services held in Ampatuan, (the massacre site) by families, journalists and friends were displayed with the photos and names of the victims.

The foreign educated journalists pledged to work in solidarity and expressed the desire to form a more active and cohesive group that will conduct workshops and continue with the planned Editors' Weekend trainings in the coming months.

NUJP-Canada commemorated the event to raise awareness about the culture of impunity prevailing in the Philippines and to continue the search for justice for the massacre victims and their families.. Thirty two Filipino journalists were waylaid and murdered by more than a hundred armed men last November 23, 2009 while enroute to Ampatuan, Maguindanao, Philippines.

In honour of the 32 journalists killed in line of duty, NUJP Canada Chapter held the prayer-memorial in tandem with a seminar–worshop on Workers’ Health and Safety. NUJP –Canada has sent invitations to media practitioners, migrant workers, caregivers, industrial and factory workers, members of the academe and labour union members.

The workshop which will be expanded in the coming months will tackle and teach participants about workers’ rights to a safe and healthy workplace, workers' right to participate in joint Workplace Health and Safety Committees, and to empower workers about their rights to refuse unsafe working conditions based on the guidelines of the Health and Safety Act.

Meanwhile, NUJP Philippines held marches, rallies and media symposia to mark the 3rd year anniversary of the Ampatuan massacre last November 23.

In a statement, Nestor Burgos, Chair of NUJP Philippines said “As long as justice remains elusive for the victims and their families, we will continue to mark this with activities to remind the world of this worst single attack on journalists and to demand justice.

The event made headlines worldwide and has become a more pressing issue in the Philippines because of the recent murder of Cabanatuan broadcaster Julius Cauzo last November 8. “International press freedom and free expression groups have declared this day as International Day Against Impunity because aside from the massacre, the killings and attacks against Filipino journalists remain unabated.”

“The International Federation of Journalists, Committee to Protect Journalists, UNESCO and other groups released statements and held activities in solidarity with Philippine media organizations”.

In Manila, the Visayas Islands, Luzon and Mindanao, protesters carried 153 makeshift coffins to highlight the number of journalists killed since 1986 up to the administration of Benigno Aquino 111. A silent march from Welcome Rotunda to Mendiola where an ecumenical program were held were joined by various mass organizations and media groups.

NUJP Philippines also realeased an official “NUJP-IFJ Report:titled: "3 Years Hence” last Nov. 16 to sum up what has happened three years after the massacre. NUJP Philippines also continued the travelling photo exhibit along with the holding of forums among schools in Manila”

In General Santos City, South Cotabato, families of the massacre victims together with local media held a funeral procession on November 28 with 58 mock coffins ( the total number of civilians and journalists killed in the Maguindanao massacre).

The trial of those accused in the massacre has been grinding slowly in the Philippine courts. Three vital witnesses that pointed to the Ampatuan family members as the mastermind and participants in the gruesome murders were killed by unknown assailants.

By Edwin C. Mercurio

Seminar-Workshop on WHS sponsored by OPSEU Local 526,Workers Health and Safety Centre of Ontario and The Kababayan Community Centre


To honour the first year anniversary of the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre and our Fallen Journalists Colleagues, The November 23rd Movement in Canada today announced the holding of a religious interfaith memorial service which will be held at a church in Toronto this Sunday November 28, 2010.

Excerpts from the November 28, 2010 Memorial Service at the Our Lady of the Assumption Church to be officiated by Fr. Romeo Tolentino at 5:00 PM today.

The November 23rd Movement of Canada and member organizations today commemorate, pay tribute and honour the heroism and work of the many fallen 171 media Filipino journalists, including the 32 community journalists who were brutally killed in the heinous November 23, 2009 Maguindanao massacre. In 2009, the Philippines has the highest number of journalists killed worldwide.

A total of 171 Filipino journalists and media workers were killed since 1986, Commissioner on Human Rights Jose Manuel Mamaug said. “Of the 171 cases, 116 were killed in line of duty.” Seventy eight percent of the killings happened during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The year 2009 had the highest number of journalist killed, 32 of them massacred in Sharif Aguak town in Maguindanao on November 23, 2009. Despite constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression, killings of media remain unabated. Most of the perpetrators of media killings are either policemen or soldiers. The Philippines ranked number one worldwide as the most dangerous country for practising journalist in 2009 with 32 killed in one day alone in Maguindanao, Southern Philippines. The November 23rd Movement commemorate the first year anniversary of the Maguindanao Massacre, this day November 28, 2010, at the 5PM Sunday memorial service at the Our Lady of the Assumption Church. The memorial mass will be officiated by Rev. Fr. Romeo Tolentino. As a fitting tribute, the group will officially launch the newly organized group called Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mamahayag sa Canada (Organization of Filipino-Canadian Journalists) or OPM-Canada. OPM-Canada will be actively involved in the development of young Filipino-Canadian journalists, broadcasters, photographers and artists and plans to undertake projects to help promote community capacity building initiatives and establish strong linkages with the media sector in the Philippines. The core group is composed of veteran writers and broadcasters from major daily newspapers from the Philippines

In memory of those who died for Press Freedom...

January 23, 2010 - OPSEU Union Hall, Toronto


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We gather here today in solidarity to remember those who died in the Maguindanao Massacre last November 23, 2009.

Let us all bow our heads for a moment of silence to commemorate the passing away of 57 men and women, 32 of whom were working journalists, 2 of whom were women lawyers. Among the defenceless victims of this gruesome massacre in Maguindanao were two expectant mothers and their unborn babies.

It is now exactly three months ago on the 23rd day of November last year that the lives of these men and women were violently snapped out of this world.

I am offering this reflection today as a living witness to the many wonderful, kind, brave and fearless journalists, broadcasters, and media practitioners of the Philippines. As a kind gesture I would like each one of us to remember the Maguindanao Massacre victims as loving fathers and mothers to their children, a brother or a sister and grandparents to so many young children of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, General Santos City, Lake Buluan, Sarangani Bay, Koronadal City, Davao City and other places in Mindanao. Many of the victims are my friends and colleagues in the Mindanao media.

A free and independent media is the cornerstone of a democratic country. The Philippines today is regarded by the whole world as the most dangerous place for journalists. As Marie Hilao Enriquez saId today, our motherland is in grave danger because the current regime is desperate to cling to power. It is reported that there are now more than a hundred journalists who have been assassinated under the murderous regime of Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo. The culture of impunity is pervading in the Philippines today.

As we commemorate the third month anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre, we must turn our anger into affirmative commitment to the pursuit of Justice. We must turn our justified anger into concrete action and resolutely defend, uphold and advance people’s rights.

In honour of the 57 victims of the Maguindanao Massacre, I ask everyone to raise our collective voices and say : “We demand justice. Uphold, Defend and Advance People’s Rights not only in the Philippines but also here in Canada!"

"Stop the Killings. We will never forget. We will continue to seek Justice for the Victims of the Maguindanao Massacre."

In closing, I cordially invite participants to join the newly-formed November 23rd Movement- Toronto Chapter.

Edwin C. Mercurio

Spokesperson-November 23rd Movement, Toronto Chapter


A Tribute to the Maguindanao Martyrs of Press Freedom

By Edwin C. Mercurio, Former Editor - Mindanao Journal, General Santos City Bureau.

Bong Reblando, one of the 32 murdered journalists in Maguindanao last Monday was a long time colleague from South Cotabato, Philippines. Like the rest of my Mindanao media colleagues we often try to outdo each other in getting our stories in next day's news headlines of our respective papers.

Bong was the loquacious type. He was the life of our parties. He was a constant media colleague covering Muslim, Christian and Tribal people's issues up in the mountainous regions of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, General Santos City and Sarangani Bay in Southern Mindanao, Philippines .

If there was anyone who is capable of stirring up the media group into frenzied laughter it was Bong. He was friendly, cordial, easy going and full of life. Because he was often late in attending our meetings we tease him by calling him the 'late' Bong Reblando.

But, we had the best fun if one of us beat him to the front page of our daily newspaper's headline the next day with staff from radio stations DXCP General Santos City and DXKR Koronadal keeping tabs of our scores.

It is sad to think that he is gone forever, his head smashed beyond recognition and one of his ears slashed off, his body riddled with bullets like the rest of the 32 journalists who were all found dead. Like him, the other journalists were shot at close range. Many of his fellow media practitioners were hastily dumped in a well-dug up burial pit in a savage attack last Monday November 23, while covering an unfolding news story in Maguindanao, Southern Philippines.

Like all of us, he believed in Press Freedom and in his last moments, perhaps, still believed that the "Pen is mightier than the Sword".

The Maguindanao massacre believed committed by 100 heavily armed militia of a powerful political clan will forever be remembered as the single day of brutality against working journalists in the world's history. It was on this day that 32 men and women journalists braved the dangerous roads of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato and died in their noble job of bringing the news to their Filipino countrymen and women.

Nowhere in the world has a slaughter of journalists happened of this magnitude in one day. The whole world has condemned this massacre of 57 defenceless civilians, 32 of them our brothers and sisters in the media.

With this massacre, the Philippines is branded worldwide as the top murderer of journalists this year. It has surpassed war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan, Somalia, Sierra Leone and Latin American countries.

The savagery, shamelessness and mutilation of the victims' bodies show the ugly realities of our Philippine politics and society. Many of the women victims bore the signs of sexual abuse and their genitals were slashed, their breasts and mouths shot in close range.

We must condemn this inhuman and brutal massacre. In the words of our Philippine Press Club of Ontario (PPCO) President Tenny Soriano, this is "The Devil's Handiwork". Our PPCO Press Club has issued a statement demanding an end to the killing of Filipino journalists which now totals more than 127 in the last ten years and the disbanding of clan-based militia and their warlords.

In this gathering tonight, I urge everyone to fervently pray that this will not happen again. I urge each and everyone of my media colleagues to turn their anger into courage and fight to uphold the principles of Press Freedom enshrined in our constitutions both here in Canada and the Philippines.

We must honour our fallen brothers and sisters by continuing their work in bringing truth, justice, and freedom thru our media profession. We can honour them by continuing the campaign to end the carnage of our fellow journalists. We pay tribute to them by denouncing the people responsible for their deaths and demand that they be brought to justice. Our task as journalists is to remind and demand from our Philippine government leaders that as "Servants of the People" they are duty bound to end the culture of violence and impunity pervading our Philippine society. Lastly, we must find ways to help the families and children of our fallen brothers and sisters.

In Solidarity,

Edwin C. Mercurio

PPCO Tribute to Fallen Media Colleagues

November 27, 2009

To Sign Petition click on this link:http://www.Petition Ampatuan/ petition. html


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