THE 2009 Maguindanao massacre was known not only as “an unprecedented case of election-related violence.” It was also billed as “an exceptionally brutal attack on the press.”
Since the tragedy, the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) has called for a review of journalists’ safety measures, which must include a practical and cautious deployment of reporters at political events, particularly in election hotspots.
Many in the industry wonder to this day how so many “media workers” were assigned to “cover” the entourage of a candidate for governor who was making the trip to file his certificate of candidacy. Thirty two of the 58 people killed (or 55.17%) were connected with media as reporters, photographers or otherwise. The suspicion was that the press was used as some kind of shield to the threatened politician, which didn’t work because even members of media were included in the slaughter.
CCPC renews the call for tougher safety measures in covering dangerous areas and greater caution by media managers. It also earnestly asks law enforcers to be more diligent in protecting citizens, including journalists.
May the conviction of the accused masterminds and their minions speed up political and judicial reforms that will help reduce if not end the culture of impunity which the Maguindanao massacre so boldly and graphically demonstrated.
Pachico A. Seares
Executive Director, CCPC