‘Aquino’s promise of justice is mere press release’ – campus press

ANOTHER year has passed and still, nothing.

“It is not justice that is evasive, Aquino is. We have seen three years of injustice unfold before us and Aquino’s promise remain to be press releases only,” says College Editors Guild of the Philippines-National Capital Region Chairperson Romina Astudillo as campus journalists strongly express their dismay on the lack of justice over the Maguindanao Massacre and the incessant culture of impunity in a protest today at the foot of Mendiola.

The Maguindanao Massacre was tagged as the single deadliest event for journalists by the Committee to Protect Journalists and is known worldwide as the International Day to End Impunity following the grim bloodbath that caused the death of 58 people including 37 journalists.

“The country has been labeled as one of the most dangerous places for journalists. Sadly, we have earned that moniker well thanks to the insincerity of this administration to give justice that the people deserve. His promise for justice has become repetitive and plain rhetoric. We find no gravity in his words anymore, nor is it credible,” says Astudillo.

Over the years, a number of witnesses have been slain, families of the massacre victims remain to be harassed, private armies are not disbanded and the case against the Ampatuan clan remains to be unclosed. The student journalists glued three body trails made of newspapers on the foot of the Mendiola Peace Arch with the calls ‘End impunity NOW!’, ‘stop killing journalists’ and ‘defend press freedom’. It symbolizes three years of continuing lack of justice and rampant impunity.

“Justice delayed is justice denied. As he continues to be evasive, he automatically enables the culture of impunity to prevail. As head of the state, people’s rights and genuine social justice should be his priority. One cannot champion the people’s interest if he takes the road that is always travelled by his predecessors,” she added.

It is not only the mainstream media who is struggling in the field. On its 81 years of existence, the Guild has documented hundreds of campus press freedom violations varying from collection of funds, censorship, military harassment, closure of publications and even extrajudicial killings.

She added, “We too are not safe from the culture of impunity. Our colleagues are among the youngest journalists to have been killed namely Rachelle Mae Palang and Benjaline Hernandez who are former CEGP vice presidents for Visayas and Mindanao, respectively. At an early age, editors are being sued or are threatened to be sued with libel. Most publications can’t practice independent journalism due to administrative intervention and so on.”

“The period of challenging the administration is over and so should his press releases,” Astudillo ended.

CEGP-NCR will be joining the commemoration of the Maguindanao Massacre tomorrow together with journalists, press freedom and human rights advocates. Its member publications will be attaching black ribbons to their mastheads or logos on their next releases, black ribbon and shirt wearing will also be conducted as part of their solidarity.

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