(Statement of undersigned Department of Journalism faculty members, and the Dean of the U.P. College of Mass Communication on the Maguindanao Massacre; this statement is being routed college-wide for signature of the college faculty)
The mutilated bodies of journalists Ian Subang (Dadiangas Times), Leah Dalmacio (Forum), Gina dela Cruz (Today), Marites Cablitas (Today), Joy Duhay (UNTV), Henry Araneta (DZRH), Andy Teodoro (Mindanao Inquirer), Neneng Montaño (formerly of RGMA), Bong Reblando, (Manila Bulletin), Victor Nuñez (UNTV), Macmac Ariola (UNTV), Jimmy Cabillo (UNTV), Bart Maravilla (Bombo Radyo, Koronadal) and lawyers Cynthia Oquendo and Connie Brizuela were recovered hours after they had set out to cover the filing of certificates of candidacy by the wife of a local official in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao yesterday.
The journalists and media practitioners were part of a convoy of some 44 unarmed civilians, most of them women, who were waylaid on their way to the Comelec office. According to reports, the skulls of some of the victims were shattered with bullets, their faces crushed beyond recognition, the women raped, and some of the other victims beheaded.
This is the largest number of journalists killed in one single incident anywhere in the world and comes amid local and international concern over deadly attacks on media people.
While the killings were the result of the long-running feud between the Ampatuans and the Mangudadatus, both maintain private armies that the government has failed to disband. The President relies on her allies to deliver votes to Malacañang, some of whom maintain heavily armed goons beyond the pale of law. Covering elections has become a dangerous trade for journalists in this country. The massacre is in short the direct consequence of the state of lawlessness in Maguindanao abetted by the Arroyo regime, in the same manner that it abets and in some cases even encourages, extra judicial killings– and in the case of journalists, encourages further killings through its indifference.
While the massacre was being perpetrated, the President’s chief political adviser was in fact shaking hands with the Ampatuans in Malacañang yesterday, even as the PNP chief for Maguindanao refused to respond when the victims were calling him up by cellphone.
In an obvious attempt at benefitting from the brutal killings—and in tacit admission that the military and police cannot do anything to prevent further violence without special powers– the presidential adviser on the peace process, Jesus Dureza, could only propose the declaration of a state of emergency in Maguindanao.
The country has been down that road before, and we know where it leads: to further violence as the police and military mask their partisanship for the various groups fighting for power in the province; as well as to further abuse as they impose the will of their patrons on the citizenry.
The Department of Journalism of the U.P. College of Mass Communication holds the Arroyo government accountable for the continuing state of lawless violence in Maguindanao and other parts of the country.
We demand that the President be made to account for the murders and mayhem perpetrated by her allies and for her continued coddling of warlords and private armies. We demand the immediate arrest of the thugs armed with unlicensed firearms as well as their bosses, and the immediate arrest and detention of the perpetrators of the crime and its masterminds regardless of political party.
Mrs. Arroyo should otherwise relinquish control of the AFP units in the area to the Comelec. Her failure to act decisively would not only demonstrate that she has no control over those areas where her allies rule. It would also show that she has a conflict of interest—between her public duty to protect the life of every Filipino on the one hand, and on the other, her interest in coddling the warlords who have delivered votes for her administration in the past regardless of their cost in lives, and on whom she will once again depend in May, 2010.
Statement of undersigned faculty members of the Department of Journalism, and by the Dean of the U.P. College of Mass Communication (the statement is being routed college-wide for signature of members of the college faculty). 24 Nov. 2009
(in alphabetical order)
Eleanor Agulto, Lecturer, PR and Advertising
Teresa Congjuico, Lecturer, Publication Design & Lay-out
Fernando del Mundo, Lecturer, Investigative Reporting
Prof. Georgina R. Encanto, Ph.D., Professor, Fundamentals of Journalism, Feature Writing,
Prof. Theresa “Tessa” Jazmines, Professor, PR and Advertising
Prof. Rachel Khan, Professor, Newsreporting, Fundamentals of Journalism, Ethics
Prof. Marichu Lambino, Chair, Dep’t of Journalism (Media Law, Ethics, Fundamentals)
Dennis Sabangan, Lecturer, Photojournalism
Lucia Tangi, Instructor, Newsreporting, History of the Press
Former dean, Prof. Luis Teodoro, Professorial Lecturer, Ethics, Fundamentals, etc.
Prof. Rolando Tolentino, Ph.D, Dean, U.P. College of Mass Communication
Dean Rolando Tolentino, Tel. No. 928-3188
Prof. Marichu Lambino, Tel. No. 920- 6852