MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Filipino journalism mourns the 14th anniversary of the journalists who passed fourteen years ago today. The Ampatuan massacre is deemed the “worst case of election violence in the Philippines and the worst single attack on the media.”
On November 23, 2009 fifty-eight personnel on a convoy with thirty-two media workers were mercilessly massacred by armed men. The convoy was heading to the provincial Commission on Elections (Comelec) office located in Sharriff Aguak. They were on their way to file for Ismael Mangudadatu’s certificate of candidacy for the position of Maguindanao governor.
On that specific day Mangudadatu who had already received death threats brought his wife, sisters, legal aids to file for his certificate of candidacy when they were suddenly stopped by a group of armed men and gunned down.
In the opposing position, Andal Ampatuan Jr. was also running for the same government title. The armed group who massacred countless journalists belonged to the local political dynasty of the Ampatuan family.
During 2009, Ampatuan was part of Maguindanao’s bigger territory, the province has since been split by a law in September of 2022. This specific massacre rocked the entire nation and shed a light on various issues in Philippine politics. Issues that have always been there but never paid attention to.
This specific event in Philippine history left the entire country mourning for the victims and their families. This case was something that the entire country was following, seeking justice for those who were slain.
To this day, missing journalist Reynaldo Momay’s family has never lit a candle for him. Momay’s daughter shares that her family is still in a difficult situation fourteen years later since they have no certainty of what really happened to her father Reynaldo. The journalists’ remains have never been found.
The loved ones the massacre victims left behind Justice Now, and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) counted Reynaldo Momay as the heartless massacre’s fifty-eight victim.
Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 only acknowledged fifty-seven victims of the massacre and dismissed Reynaldo Momay’s case, deeming the prosecution failing to provide evidence that he was killed since his remains were never found.
Fourteen years later, journalists and media personnel are still at harm’s reach from the Philippines’ political scene. With red-tagging at a high, journalists, media personnel and common Filipinos are at risk for expressing their concerns and sentiments about the current political scene in the Philippines and the Filipinos’ freedom of speech are being shackled by the ones in power. Just recently, a radio broadcaster was gunned down on air in his own home, this crime has made international news.