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Journalists condemn massacre
In The Press Posted on November 29th, 2009.
Thousands of media men belonging to various media organizations and sympathizers held a rally Monday at the Mendiola bridge in San Miguel, Manila to condemn the November 23 Maguindanao massacre which claimed at least 57 lives, including those of 30 media men.
“End impunity…Justice now!” cried the more than 5,000 protesters mostly belonging from different media organizations and militant groups.
The protest march started on España Blvd. in front of the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) at 9 a.m.
Majority of the journalists who joined the rally converged at the National Press Club (NPC) in Intramuros, Manila.
Tension developed at the Don Chino Roces bridge when Press Secretary Cerge Remonde went out of the Malacañang Palace and attempted to convey to the protesters a message from the Arroyo government.
Remonde was heckled and hit by rubbish as he attempted to assure the protesters about the swift prosecution of the perpetrators of the brutal killings.
The protesters instead shouted “tuta,” “berdugo,” and “terorista” at Remonde. Some even chanted “Remonde resign.”
Remonde went up a makeshift stage and declared the government was in solidarity with the journalists grieving for their colleagues who were among those killed last week.
But the crowd continued jeering at Remonde while some even threw water bottles and crumpled paper at him, forcing the Cabinet official to cut short his remarks and retreat to the Palace.
Speaking to reporters later, Remonde shrugged of the heckling done by some protesters, saying he merely wanted to assure the media community that the government is doing its best to hunt down the perpetrators of the crime.
“I would want to convey to them that President Arroyo and the government is one with them in upholding press freedom and the rights of the free press,” Remonde, who was clad in black, said.
"I would like to convey to them that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the government will do everything to ensure that justice is done for the victims of political and media killings,” he added.
The Palace official admitted that he ignored the advice of some people to skip the affair due to the angry crowd because the issue of media violence was “close to his heart.”
“It may seem really that rules of civility are no longer present among some people,” he said, referring to the protesters’ unfriendly reception. But he still thanked Party-list Representatives Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza, the leaders of the protest action, for accepting his gesture.
Members of the National Union of Peoples Lawyers (NUPL), the National Press Club (NPC), the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Solidarity Philippines, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Gabriela, and the College Editors Guild of the Philippines joined the two-hour protest action.
Representatives of the Confederation
of Asean Journalists (CAJ) also attended the protest action.
Benny Antiporda, president of the NPC, warned that the group of journalists will not stop until justice is given to all the victims.
The protesters said they are dismayed at the slow progress in serving justice to the victims of the massacre.
The protesters ended the rally peacefully.