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Kin of journalists slain in Ampatuan massacre demand end to intrigues, urge unity

The families of the 32 journalists who lost their lives in the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre demanded an end to what they called intrigues intended to sow disunity between them and organizations that have been assisting them for the past decade.

In all, 58 persons were murdered in what has been acknowledged as the worst case of electoral violence in recent Philippine history and the single deadliest attack on the press ever recorded.

Joining members and officers of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines who held an activity in General Santos City as part of the monthly countdown leading up to the 10th anniversary of the massacre, the families, who have organized themselves as JUSTICE NOW, issued a statement “to clarify any misimpressions created by certain groups and personalities who claim that we are demanding an accounting of the assistance we received through media organizations.”

This was in response to earlier claims that families of the slain journalists were demanding an accounting of all donations intended for them because of the supposed “broken promises” of livelihood and scholarships by media organizations through whom funds were channeled.

“We are aware that, although no names were mentioned, the supposed demand for accountability was primarily targeted at the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, which, we once again stress, was one of the first organizations to rush to our side right after the massacre and has never left us since then,” JIUSTICE NOW said.

The families also stressed that “we have not and are not demanding, as some quarters claim, demanding that the NUJP open its records and show us where the funds and other assistance meant for us went.”

“If there is anything we are demanding, it is that government show the records of where the international assistance reportedly channeled through it has gone,” the families said.

JUSTICE NOW said it knew how the assistance coursed through the NUJP had been used “since we see the living proof of this – our children who have availed of the scholarships NUJP helped secure for them, many of whom have graduated and are now helping support our families, replacing the breadwinners we lost 10 years ago.”

It also acknowledged that the funding for the scholarships had run out because “they NUJP has been very open with us” and they were also informed by the International Federation of Journalists, which secured the assistance.

“But this is not about money,” the families stressed. “This is about unity – ours as the victims’ families and that which we forged with the NUJP 10 years ago – and our continued call for justice.”

At the same time, they called on those seeking to sow division among them to stop because “you do not speak for us and have no right to.”

“We ask you instead to join us in continuing to demand justice for the 58 persons who lost their lives in the massacre through the final conviction and punishment of all those involved in planning and carrying out” the massacre.

Following is the full statement of JUSTICE NOW:

We, the families of the 32 media workers who lost their lives in the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre, organized as the JUSTICE NOW MOVEMENT, wish to issue this position paper to clarify any misimpressions created by certain groups and personalities who claim that we are demanding an accounting of the assistance we received through media organizations.

We are aware that, although no names were mentioned, the supposed demand for accountability was primarily targeted at the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, which, we once again stress, was one of the first organizations to rush to our side right after the massacre and has never left us since then.

In fact, our presence here today with the NUJP at the monthly countdown to the 10th anniversary of the massacre is proof that what we promised each other since that fateful day – “Walang iwanan” – holds true to this day. 
JUSTICE NOW also clarifies that we have not and are not demanding, as some quarters claim, that the NUJP open its records and show us where the funds and other assistance meant for us went.

This is because we are fully aware that the NUJP is an organization of working journalists and does not have the funds for this kind of work, and that what it does is help source and secure the assistance needed by the families of murdered journalists, not only those of the victims of the massacre.

Aside from this, we know very well where and how these were spent since we see the living proof of this – our children who have availed of the scholarships NUJP helped secure for them, many of whom have graduated and are now helping support our families, replacing the breadwinners we lost 10 years ago.

The NUJP has also been very open with us, updating and consulting us regularly. We also know that the scholarship fund has finally run out as we were informed about this last year by the International Federation of Journalists, which secured the assistance. If there is anything we are demanding, it is that government show the records of where the international assistance reportedly channeled through it has gone.

In the aftermath of the massacre, many promises of help were made. In fact, not just by government but even by other media groups. However, because the masterminds who planned and led in carrying out the massacre were government officials and agents, we feel it is the State that carries the primary responsibility of providing assistance to us and explaining why this has not been forthcoming, after a decade.

We remember in the aftermath of the massacre that then Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman made us undergo a seminar on proposal making and promised that the output would lead to funding assistance. We understand that release documents had been prepared for approved proposals. Yet, to date, we have received nothing.

But this is not about money. This is about unity – ours as the victims’ families and that which we forged with the NUJP 10 years ago – and our continued call for justice. We call on the quarters behind these attempts to break our unity by raising the bogey of funding and so-called demands for transparency and accountability to stop.

You do not speak for us and have no right to. We ask you instead to join us in continuing to demand justice for the 58 persons who lost their lives in the massacre through the final conviction and punishment of all those involved in planning and carrying out the worst incident of electoral violence in our country’s recent history and the single deadliest attack on the press ever.

Our call remains, JUSTICE NOW, CONVICT AMPATUAN!

Reference:
Emily Lopez, Chairperson
Mary Grace Morales, Secretary General

Journalists start countdown to 10th anniversary of Ampatuan Massacre

Journalists led by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines held a candle-lighting ceremony to start the countdown to the 10th anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre.

Reporters and other media workers as well as media organizations gathered last Wednesday at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani to denounce the slow trial of the suspected perpetrators of the gruesome incident of November 23, 2009 that killed 58 persons, including 32 journalists.

The journalists vowed to press the demand for full justice to the victims of the massacre dubbed as the worst case of election violence in the Philippines and the worst single attack on journalists in human history. (Video by Joseph Cuevas)

THE STATE OF PHILIPPINE MEDIA

Relentless Attacks And Threats

Online, On Ground, Across the Nation

23 November 2018

 

 By the Freedom for Media, Freedom for All Network

Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR),

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines,

Philippine Press Institute (PPI),

MindaNews, and

Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ)

ATTACKS AND THREATS against the Philippine media — acute and creeping, online and offline, deadly and debilitating — continue to rise under the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

In the 28 months of the Duterte presidency, or from July 1, 2016 to Oct. 31, 2018, we have documented at least 99 such cases of direct and indirect assaults against journalists and news media agencies.

Separately and together, these continue to put at risk and serious peril the practice of independent journalism in what had hitherto been hailed to be one of Asia’s freest and most rambunctious press.

This latest figure, 99 in all, is bigger than the 85 cases that we have documented until April 30, 2018, or in the first 22 months of Duterte. But in the succeeding six months, more of the more dreadful cases had occurred.

Three more journalists had been killed — for a total of 12 under the Duterte presidency’s 28-month rule. From July 1, 2016 to last May 1, nine journalists had been killed in the line of duty.

Just as worrisome, the count of other cases of attacks on media freedom had also marked increases. For instance:

* Online harassment cases had risen from 14 to 17;

* Slay attempts, from 6 to 7 cases;

* Verbal assault or threat (mostly from public officials), from one to five cases;

* Arrests, from zero to three cases; and

* One more case of intimidation (from 5 to 6) and one more case of physical assault (from 4 to 5), had also been recorded in the last six months.

An aggregate 11 cases of threat by SMS or text messaging, and five cases of verbal threat have also happened in the 28 months of Duterte.

One more cyber libel case had been filed, bringing the new total to four, from three last May.

However, the 16 libel cases recorded as of last May have thinned to 12 by end-October 2018, on account of the dismissal or resolution of four cases.

In sum, the 99 cases of attacks and threats in the 28 months of the Duterte presidency consist of:

  • Online harassment, 17 cases;
  • Killing, 12;
  • Libel, 12;
  • Threat by SMS, 11;
  • Slay attempt, 7;
  • Intimidation 6;
  • Verbal threat/assault, 5;
  • Physical assault, 5;
  • Website attack, 4;
  • Cyber libel, 4;
  • Arrest, 3;
  • Corporation-related case, 3;
  • Barred from coverage, 3;
  • Physical harassment, 3;
  • Article takedown, 2;
  • Strafing/shooting incident, 2;

By alleged perpetrator or suspect, it is most significant that nearly half or 44 of the cases involved state agents or public officials.

They include 13 local government officials; 11 officers of the Philippine National Police; 6 national government officials; three officers each of the Presidential Security Group and of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; two cases each involving, ironically, an official of the Presidential Special Task Force on Media Killings (PTFOMS) and of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, and one case involving the director of the Philippine Information Agency.

Apart from the state agents/agencies, the other alleged perpetrators or suspects behind the attacks and threats follow:

  • Online partisan trolls, 16;
  • Still unidentified, 14;
  • Private citizen, 12;
  • Anonymous caller, 7;
  • Unknown attacker (website), 4;
  • No data, 1; and
  • Alleged NPA, 1.

 By gender, 59 cases targeted male journalists and 23 female journalists. Another 17 cases were directed at media organizations.

By platform, 33 cases involved journalists and agencies from radio; 30 online media; 23 print media; 11 television networks; 1 photojournalist; and 1 multimedia journalist.

By islands of the country, 66 cases were recorded in Luzon, 12 in the Visayas, and 21 in Mindanao.

By regions of the country, the spread of the cases follows:

  • NCR (Metro Manila), 41 cases;
  • Region III (Central Luzon), 8;
  • Region XIII (CARAGA), 7;
  • Region V (Bicol Region), 6;
  • Region VIII (Eastern Visayas), 5;
  • Region XI (Davao Region), 5;
  • Region IV-A (Calabarzon), 5;
  • Region IX (Western Mindanao), 5;
  • Region I (Ilocos Region), 4;
  • Region XII (SOCCKSARGEN), 4;
  • Region VI (Western Visayas), 4;
  • Region VII (Central Visayas), 3; and
  • CAR (Cordillera Administrative Region), 2.

 Imperatives: Unity, vigilance, action

All around the world, the decline of democracy may have muted the voices protesting attacks and threats against the press and journalists. Indeed in some countries governments have gained support for reining in and restraining the press, even regulating and controlling its practice.

The prospects for press freedom and citizen support for journalists are endangered in a period of rising authoritarianism. Citizens have been misled to support the ascent of autocratic leaders promising quick solutions to embedded ills. Citizens have been made to believe that the democratic experiment has failed; thus a new order must be created where the people’s interests come first, even at the sacrifice of inalienable freedoms.

Recent Philippine history shows that popular submission to a regime of control and acceptance of the suspension of basic civil and political rights, including the freedom of the press and expression, have led to serious repercussions, not least of which are a treasury beggared by crony capitalism, an educational system in shambles, and a press intimidated into silence that has kept the public ignorant of the true state of the nation.

In over two years of the Duterte administration, Filipinos have once again played along with the seductive pledge of quick fixes. But democratic development is a slow process, and can be exhausting.

Sadly, the press is confronted once again with multiple challenges:  a beleaguered state of affairs entails full discourse on issues of governance, the wayward conduct of certain public officials and state agencies that require close scrutiny, their failures investigated, and accountability and responsibility clearly defined.

The news media are central to the capability of a national community to think out these problems, with leaders in constant conversation not just amongst themselves; but openly analyzing and explaining what these issues involve and what can be done to move to fair and speedy action and solutions.

Journalists must commit to learning more about the background of the news in order to more faithfully report, or interpret the meaning of what is happening.

Yet still, the culture of impunity, the failed observance of human rights by state agents; the vulnerability of journalists to legal threats or worse, lies, to a great extent within the ambit of the courts; the application of rules and procedures that delay justice; the bias of these procedures for the rich accused of crimes on display by officers of the law; the richly paid legal eagles drawn into service of defending those with the means to afford their extravagant fees, linger in our midst.

Journalists, unlike government officials are not sworn into office, but the practice is based on a sacred trust — protected by no less than the Constitution — to provide the news and information that the people need to know about, with analysis and interpretation so citizens can make sense of what is going on and formulate sound judgments and decisions.

The restoration of democracy in the years that followed the fall of the Marcos dictatorship have gathered advocates around the task of protecting and defending press freedom and the safety and welfare of journalists.

But today under the Duterte administration, never has so much darkness hovered over the prospects of free and independent journalism since the democratic recovery of 1986.

How does the media react to this?

It goes timid or it joins the side where political power resides, receiving extra compensation for its efforts. We do not deny the corruption has been an effective silencer of the news that citizens need to know.

Sadly, the observation has been made that the news media has been intimidated into silence on so many issues. There remains, however, a great many journalists who continue to report on stories that may put their lives in danger.

Those who have joined in the collective resolve to stand up and insist on the freedom to report, on the free flow of information, not just for journalists but for all citizens;  those who speak on behalf of those who are attacked and threatened, besieged, and beleaguered, must learn to work together, gaining strength from one another!

Today, the ninth anniversary of the Ampatauan Massacre of Nov. 23, 2009, we call on Filipinos to support press freedom and to come to the defense of those in media who struggle working within the narrowing space and time, to counter false narratives and disinformation, and to check the abuse of power.

Even in small measures, the exercise of freedom strengthens and nurtures the human spirit, invigorate the energies that will empower citizens to speak truth to power. Hope springs from in the power of truth to make us all informed and free.

In a similarly distressing time, journalists need to reach out to one another and build alliances so they can altogether secure the channels and platforms for truth.

That struggle must acknowledge the perils of the exercise, but also the great power of solidarity and sustained defense of press freedom and the people’s right to know.

The victims of attacks and threats against media freedom may be fewer than the other victims of violence in Philippine society today. But these target and weaken the institution that provides and sustains for all citizens the conversation about issues that matter, and upholds the integrity of political communication, without which the press cannot check the abuse of power.

And so we must work to keep a record of lives lost, or rights denied or diminished, of access limited or eliminated, of attacks and threats that rob us of our peace, safety, and freedoms.

NUJP statement on the 9th anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre

Today, November 23, 2018, is the ninth year since a power-crazed madman and his armed minions, among them members of the police, halted a convoy on the national highway in Barangay Saqlman, Ampatuan town, Maguindanao and herded the passengers, along with those of two vehicles that just happened to pass by, to a hilltop in Sitio Masalay and slaughtered them.

In the convoy were relatives and supporters of then Buluan town vice mayor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu who intended to file his candidacy for governor of Maguindanao against Andal “Datu Unsay” Ampatuan Jr., scion of the powerful clan that ruled the province, and 32 journalists who were there to cover the proceedings.

All in all, 58 persons died, making the Ampatuan massacre both the worst case of electoral violence in recent Philippine history and the single deadliest attack on the press ever recorded.

One would expect that justice would be swift in coming for a crime that literally shocked the world, so horrendous was it in both cruelty and scale. But no, the Justice department of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo chose to file what legal experts then called as “case designed to fail,” charging more than 190 persons instead of concentrating first on the principal suspects, key members of the Ampatuan clan, thus ensuring that the prosecution would stretch on for years. The most optimistic opinion on when the earliest conviction could be expected was 10 years.

A year short of that prediction, it is but right for the victims’ families, tired of the extremely slow pace of the trial, to shout “Justice Now” and “Convict Ampatuan.”

In fact, signaling their impatience, this year’s observance had the families of both non-media and media victims coming together to remember and honor their loved ones and, together, demand the justice they have long been deprived of.

While we are heartened by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra’s statement that a conviction may, at last, be forthcoming, we also hope this does not signal any intervention by the executive branch that could lead to a miscarriage of justice.

And while a closure to this tragedy is most welcome, we stress that it should not in any way detract from the State’s continued accountability for its continued failure to bring an end to the threats and attacks against journalists and to give justice to the more than 100 other victims of media killings since 1986.

#JUSTICENOW

#CONVICTAMPATUAN

#ENDTHEKILLINGS

KUNG PAANO MAGDILIG

Sa alaala ng Maguindanao Massacre

 

Nabibitak na ang lupa sa malawak
Na kapatagan ng Maguindanao.
Ngayo’y hindi naman tagtuyot,
Ngunit tigang ang rabaw
At sementadong kalsadang
Dinaraanan nila.

Tirik ang araw. Walang ulan
Na puwedeng maging dahilan
Ng alimuom, ngunit nakapagtataka
Na may ibang singaw
Ang lupa. Maaamoy mo ang sangsang

Na bitbit ng mga sumasayaw na dahon.

Hindi ito ordinaryong hapon. Kailangan nilang magdilig –
Upang hindi mamatay
Ang mga halaman at tanim.
Kaya’t sila ay nagdilig nang nagdilig.

Bitbit ang pag-asang maibabalik

Muli ang dating samyo
Ng probinsya.

Tahimik ang paligid.
Kanta lamang
Ng mga ibon ang maririnig.
Ngunit kung nanaising tumahimik –
Madidinig ang alingawngaw
Ng mga katawang nakatanim,
At kung paano sila itinanim.

Kung susumikaping imulat ang mata –
Makikita sa tintadong lupa
Kung anong likido ang kanilang pinang-igib,
Para gamiting pandilig
Sa bitak-bitak na lupa kung saan
Nagpatong-patong ang iniwang gunita.

11.23.18
Andre Gutierrez

Pahayag ng mga pamilya ng mga biktima ng Ampatuan Massacre tungkol sa panandaliang paglaya ni Zaldy Ampatuan

Agosto 23, 2018

Kaming mga naiwang pamilya ng 32 mamamahayag na kabilang sa 58 kataong walang awang pinaslang sa Ampatuan massacre noong November 23, 2009, ay kinokondena ang naging desisyon ng Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 na payagang makalabas ng kulungan at dumalo sa kasal ng kanyang anak ang isa sa mga akusado na si Zaldy Ampatuan.

Labis na nagdurugo ang aming mga puso at sumasabog sa galit ang aming mga damdamin sa pagsasawalang bahala na ito ng korte sa aming mga asawa, anak, kapatid at kaanak na hanggang ngayo’y nagdadalamhati halos siyam na taon na matapos ang pinakabrutal na insidente ng pamamaslang ng mga mamamahayag sa kasaysayan.

Isang insultong hindi katanggap-tanggap para sa amin na malaman na ang isa sa mga nagplano ng karumal-dumal na krimen ay makalalanghap ng hangin ng kalayaan kahit sa maikling panahon para makasama ang kanyang pamilya, isang bagay na habambuhay na ipinagkait sa amin.

Ang mas nakalulungkot dito ay hindi namin ito inasahan at walang nagpaabot sa amin ng impormasyon na dumulog sa korte si Zaldy Ampatuan para umapela na bigyan siya ng permisong dumalo sa isang kasalan. Kung nalaman agad namin ito, hinding-hindi namin ito palalampasin at mahigpit itong tututulan.

Kaya ang tanong namin sa aming tagapagtanggol: Sino ba ang inyong kinakatawan sa kasong ito?

Tanong din namin sa korte: Patas at makatarungan ba na bigyan si Zaldy Ampatuan ng pribilehiyong hindi makamit ng ibang presong may mas magagaang na kaso? Makaaasa pa ba kami ng katarungan para sa aming mga mahal sa buhay?

Sana ay maunawaan kami sakaling may nasaling sa paglabas ng aming nga hinanaing tungkol sa tinatakbo ng kaso. Pero matapos ang siyam na taon at wala pang naparurusahan isa man sa mga maysala, aaminin namin na ang aming tiwala sa sistema ng hustisya ay lubos na nasusubok.

Pagkatapos ng masaker, tinaya ng mga eksperto na aabutin ng sampung taon o isang dekada bago may maparusahan sa krimen na ito. Nalalapit na ang panahon na iyon pero ang pagkamit ng hustisya ay nananatiling mailap.

Sa halos isang dekadang inaasam-asam namin ang katarungan ang bubungad sa amin ay ang pribilehiyong tinamasa niya. Ano ang dapat naming maramdaman?

Sa mga humahawak ng kaso, huwag naman po ninyo paglaruan ang kaso dahil hindi po nakakatuwa.

Reference:

Grace Morales
Asawa ni Rosell Morales ng News Focus 6
Tagapagsalita, Justice Now!

 

Ampatuan furlough alarms journos, rights groups

Journalists and human rights advocates expressed alarm over a four-hour furlough given by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QC-RTC) to a primary suspect in the November 24, 2009 Ampatuan Massacre that killed 58 victims, including 32 reporters.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said in a statement it is concerned to learn that QC-RTC Judge Jocelyn Solis – Reyes allowed former Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor Zaldy Ampatuan to leave detention to attend his daughter’s wedding Tuesday, August 21.

“While we may understand a parent’s desire to be present at such an important milestone in the life of a child, we stress that the crime of which Mr. Ampatuan is accused of is of such a heinous nature that the shock and outrage it stirred around the world forced then President Gloria Arroyo to move against the powerful clan that was among her staunchest allies,” NUJP said.

The NUJP said it learned of Ampatuan’s furlough only through Tawi-Tawi Rep. Ruby Sahali who posted on social media a picture of herself with former ARMM governor Zaldy Ampatuan.

The caption read: “Alhamdulilla with my former Boss Former RG Datu Zaldy Uy Ampatuan during the wedding ceremony of his eldest daugher Bai Nur Aila.”

Rep. Sahali also posted video from the wedding, which she indicated was held at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel.

“Almost nine years after the rampage that claimed the lives of 58 persons, 32 of them media workers, no one has yet been convicted. Yet a principal accused, Sajid Ampatuan, was granted bail. That and now this, we feel, gives us and the victims’ families more than enougy cause to worry about whether we can truly expect justice for this most grievous of crimes,” NUJP said.

Suara Bangsamoro and the Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights also condemned what they call double standards in granting petitions for temporary releases from detention.

“Granting Zaldy Ampatuan a furlough, instead of conviction, is an insult to the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre. It also proves that under the Duterte administration impunity reigns as criminals and human rights violators such as Ampatuan’s boss, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, are allowed to regain and continue to consolidate their political power,” Suara Bangsamoro chairperson Jerome Succor Aba said.

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay for her part said that while Ampatuan was readily given such privilege, “political prisoners were heartlessly denied of their appeals to properly grieve and pay their respects to their loved ones.”

“Andrea Rosal was disallowed to go to the cemetery where her child was interred. Joseph Cuevas and Eddie Cruz were not allowed to even go to the wake of their fathers. Of course, they were not in government and they are poor, so they don’t have the perks of hoodlums and killers such as the Ampatuans, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Juan Ponce Enrile, and Jinggoy Estrada,” Palabay said.

 

The Philippine Star also said Judge Reyes also earlier allowed Ampatuan to attend his daughter’s college graduation from the Ateneo de Manila University.

“We all know that most people accused of lesser offenses almost never get to enjoy a privilege as that granted Zaldy Ampatuan. What made him an exception to the rule?” the NUJP asked.

Sources said Department of Justice prosecutors objected to the petition for furlough by Ampatuan’s defense lawyers, to no avail.

Other sources said that both the prosecution and defense have submitted their memoranda on the case to the court, signalling that the resolution of the long-drawn case would follow shortly.

Judge Reyes reportedly has to rule on the memoranda first before announcing a promulgation schedule.

Reyes holds the Ampatuan Massacre trial in a special court inside Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Victims decry Arroyo’s ‘resurrection’ as House speaker

A day after former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo wrested the House of Representatives speakership in a controversial manner Monday, families of victims of human rights violations held a press conference and vowed to bring her to justice.

Under Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya counter-insurgency program, more than 1,600 were killed extrajudicially while 200 remain missing to this day.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said it was under Arroyo’s nine-year regime when the Philippines became the most dangerous country for journalists with more than 120 killed.

Arroyo’s rehabilitation an insult to victims–groups

Families of victims of human rights violations under the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo government slammed the newly-installed House of Representatives Speaker, saying she is still accountable for the many atrocities from 2001 to 2009.

Angered at the complete rehabilitation of Arroyo’s political career, the families said her comeback is an insult to the victims and to the Filipino people who were also victims to the massive electoral fraud she befitted from in 2004.

“[Arroyo’s rise to the Speakership] illustrates the grave impunity under [President Rodrigo] Duterte who coddles a fraud, plunderer and rights violator,” the families said.

In a press conference, JL Burgos, brother of the disappeared peasant rights activist Jonas abducted in April 28, 2007, said, “Birds of a feather flock together,” adding he is not surprised the Arroyo’s political rehabilitation happened under a regime such as Duterte’s.

Roneo Clamor, Karapatan deputy secretary general, said the spectacle at the House of Representatives Monday, boils down to impunity, noting that both Arroyo and Duterte are accused of implementing policies that cause human rights violations in the country.

Karapatan said more than 1,600 were victims of extrajudicial killings while more than 200 remain missing as a result of Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya counter-insurgency program.

Also present in the press conference Tuesday were Evan Hernandez, mother of human rights worker Beng Hernandez who was among the first victims of extrajudicial killings under Arroyo, as well as Linda Cadapan, mother of missing University of the Philippines student  Sherlyn.

Cadapan said she had been in tears since Monday afternoon after learning Arroyo has benefitted from a dramatic coup d’etat that ousted former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

“It is hard to believe that the worst violator of human rights like Arroyo can escape justice and can still be rehabilitated as one of the highest officials of the land once more,” Cadapan told Kodao in Filipino.

Worst annual death rate of journalists

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines for its part said it vows to persevere even more to exact accountability from Arroyo under whose term a total of 103 journalists were killed.

“It was under the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo presidency that the worst attack against journalists in history happened,” NUJP said, recalling 32 reporters were killed in November 23, 2009 in the incident called the Ampatuan Massacre.

“The family believed to be behind this gruesome act has been abetted by the corrupt and bloody government of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo through political, financial, military and other forms of support, emboldening them to commit unprecendeted forms of atrocities,” NUJP said.

The group added that Arroyo’s nine years still has the worst average annual death rate of any president.

NUJP recalled that during Arroyo’s state of national emergency, the newspaper The Daily Tribune was raided and troops deployed around the premises of ABS-CBN.

During a live interview, then Arroyo Cabinet Secretary Ric Saludo said they could take over station for airing statement of mutinous military officers.

Kodao Production’s daily radio program was also taken off air due to orders from Malacañang.

The NUJP, as well as Kodao Productions and Bulatlat.com were tagged by the Armed Forces of the Philippines as “enemies of the state” under Arroyo.

Kodao was also charged with rebellion, along with 60 other activists under Arroyo’s state of national emergency in 2016.

The case was dismissed, however, when the government witnessed wrongly claimed he had been working as a spy under Kodao since 1989.

Kodao was only established in 2000. #