LOS ANGELES – Music, poetry, a photo exhibit, and some theater. For the past five years, it’s become a somber gathering for US-based Filipino journalists as they remember the 2009 Maguindanao massacre.
For these people, the five years with no convictions and at least four witnesses missing, has been five long years of denied justice.
“This is our way of commemorating our colleagues who were killed or massacred,” said Nick Sagmit, a photojournalist for the Manila Bulletin. “Fifty-eight of them. It’s been five years now and zero justice.”
“We the press have a duty, and we cannot be silenced, and we speak for the dead,” said Benny Uy, of F7 Photographers.
For Manila Bullet photojournalist Nick Sagmit, the murder hits close to home as his colleague Bong Reblando was among the journalists killed.
“He’s a good man to me,” said Sagmit. “That’s why this is my way of showing to them to pressure the government and the justice department to please, please pursue the case.”
With about a year and half left in his term, Filipino community members consider it a failure if the case does not progress under President Aquino.
“This massacre started during the term of Gloria Macapagal and Aquino had all six years in order to go for this, but what is doing,” said Larry Pelayo, United Press Club. “He’s fighting the different issues, especially pork barrel issues, but not the Ampatuan case, so we hope the people will see it.”
“Kasama nyo ako sa pag dala na sanay hindi mag tagal pa naka met natin ang justicia nakakatulang sa massacre na ito,” said LA Consul General Leo Herrera Lim.
For these Filipino journalists, no matter how slowly the wheels of justice may turn, they feel it is a duty to remember their slain colleagues, because by fighting for justice by continuing to do their own work as the media.