Philippines Massacre Trials To Start Soon

Nine months since the massacre in which 32 journalists and media workers were killed in Maguindanao in the southern Philippines, justice officials have announced a trial date for 17 suspects.


As the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), an affiliate of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), prepares today to observe the ninth month since the November 23 Ampatuan town murders, Quezon City Regional Trial Court Justice Jocelyn Solis-Reyes said the trials would begin on September 1.


The announcement led the NUJP and the IFJ to express renewed hope for justice for the 57 victims of the massacre, in a country where the murder and intimidation of media workers is commonly met with impunity.


The NUJP also reminded authorities that the victims’ families have faced a long and difficult wait for the trial and it commended the families’ resolve in demanding justice.


“The IFJ is relieved that the trials of some of the suspects implicated in the massacre will soon be under way, and hopes that there will be no further delay in bringing to justice all involved in these horrific crimes,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.


“We must keep firmly in mind that this is only the first small step in delivering justice to the victims’ families and ending the culture of impunity that has dominated the Philippines for many years.”


The Philippines is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, with the NUJP reporting 140 media workers killed since 1986.


The IFJ recently delivered an action plan to the newly elected administration of Benigno Aquino, calling on him to put an end to impunity for violence and intimidation against journalists.


Meanwhile, the NUJP has commenced an innovative program to establish a peer support network for journalists who have experienced trauma as a result of their work, with the assistance of the Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma.


A group of 16 journalists participated in an initial round of training in Batangas, in the country’s north, on August 8. The program will equip journalists with improved skills for supporting each other when working in traumatic situations, including reporting on conflict and natural disasters.


* The IFJ refers to at least 57 people killed in the Ampatuan Town massacre, in the belief that 58 people were killed. The body of Reynaldo "Bebot" Momay was never found. However, the IFJ believes he was killed. The legal proceedings against the accused refer to 57 counts of murder, on the evidence of the number of bodies recovered.


For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919


The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125 countries


Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific