Fil-Am journalists hold vigils for Charlie Hebdo terror attack

LOS ANGELES – The murder of newsmen is a familiar risk for these Filipino journalists as they held a vigil for the victims of the terror attack that left 12 journalists dead at the Charlie Hebdo office in France.

Even as they remember the 58 victims of the 2009 Maguindanao Massacre, which has yet to see any convictions.

“Before the Paris massacre there was an even bigger massacre in the Philippines. The Ampatuan Massacre and let us remember there have been 170 journalists that have been killed since 1986, Filipino journalist,” said Nimfa Rueda of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Union of Journalist of the Philippines.

Pope Francis made remarks on his way to the Philippine visit about the tragedy in Paris. He condemned the violence, but also warned that free speech, especially the satire Charlie Hebdo was known for, can sometimes result in retaliation.

As an animator, the murder of journalists killed for their satire hits close to home for Jess Espanola. Espanola is the assistant director of the Simpsons animated series which is known for its own satirical messages. He questioned why journalists from Charlie Hebdo were killed over what he described as “moderate critiques”.

“The Muslims murdered the Charlie Hebdo group,” said Espanola. “They were just moderate critiques. It was meant to be funny that’s why we wonder why it happened. They took it seriously and they killed them.”

Journalists are also monitoring the shooting death of Abante reporter Nerlita Ledesma in Bataan, which is under investigation, “Whatever the motivation is behind the killing she’s still a journalists. She’s a journalist and no matter what they did it doesn’t warrant a death sentence,” Rueda said.

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