This day marks the 33rd month, the 1,004th day of the infamous Ampatuan Massacre, a horrible event in our history where 58 people were killed, 34 of whom were journalists or working for the broadcast industry. Justice is yet to be served, but do you still care?
It seems like the attention of the public on this issue is slowly going to the depths of the abyss of the forgotten. It’s in one of the infamous characteristics of the Filipinos. We have a short attention span. We tend to forget our past easily. Mabilis makalimot. Mabilis magpatawad. Or it is being overshadowed by other news and events.
As of writing, the nation is in grief with the sudden demise of a great man, a great leader, and a great family man, DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo (together with two pilots Jessup Bahinting and Kshitz Chand). He was known to be one of, if not the best Secretary the DILG has ever had. His programs and reforms, most notably the Seal of Good Housekeeping, kept the municipalities and cities striving to perform better.
Or perhaps we no longer care about the issue anymore? As I write this piece, the local Twitter trending topics are filled with obscure statements of support for these pseudo-reality love teams and famewhores. I have always believed that the trending topics on Twitter in a particular country reflects its people’s priority, interest, and views. It’s a tragedy that these fantards behind the so-called ‘jeje trends’ on Twitter seem to be more influential than the people behind the voices of reform, vital information, advocacy, and policy making. What a shame!
By letting this event just pass us by our consciousness, it would appear that we are condoning the perpetrators of this crime. Or depriving justice to the victims and their families. Or killing the fifty-eight victims repeatedly.
The victims’ death will not be given justice if the perpetrators of the crime are not prosecuted and punished. A great man’s death would be in vain if his good works, programs, and legacy are not carried forward.
The victims of this gruesome massacre died doing what is right – the victims, in the sense of a change of leadership by means of a lawful and honest election and the mediamen, by telling their (victims’) story and by acting as our eyes, ears, and mouthpiece of that event.
Personally, I think Sec. Jesse Robredo gave as an example of what it takes to be a leader – that you can lead and uplift people’s way of lives without the use of violence and intimidation; that you can be a great and beloved leader despite of the the notion of the general public in politics as dirty; that you can lead a city for a long time and still be loved and trusted by the people; and that you can be a leader in its truest essence – a servant-leader.
This massacre is caused by the warlord’s struggle to keep their power and to protect their self-interest against any possible threats. Bad politics, bad leadership, and people continuously feeding these beasts by means of the culture of tolerance, impunity, and patronage politics. But we have seen that it is not impossible to have a good, efficient, and selfless leader to rule among us.
One of the factors why these horrible events happen is because nobody seems to be punished. People choose to be silent for fear of retribution. People choose not to speak out to avoid trouble for them and their family. We are allowing the culture of impunity in our country
Impunity. Kawalang pakundangan. It’s like saying “Go ahead, kill everyone who are against your plans! Shoot the story tellers! We allow murder in our country! No one is punished by the way.”
And we don’t want it that way, right? So what can we do as an ordinary citizen?
- Never forget. Let us always put the Ampatuan massacre into consciousness. One way of doing it is to post something about it every 23rd of the month for everyone to see (on Facebook, Twitter, and in your blogs). This will help those who have forgotten to remember.
- Be an educated and wise voter. The Ampatuan massacre is an election-related violence which involves (an alleged) private army. Choose your leaders wisely. Do not be swayed by their goods during the campaign season.
- Be vigilant. Stay on guard, be watchful. Let us be our brother’s keeper. And let us keep an eye on the proceedings of the trial (even if it takes 55,000 years, according to Atty. Harry Roque).
It is painful to admit that the wheels of justice in our country are not well-oiled, causing it to roll slowly. And it is more heart-wrenching to know that the witnesses of this massacre are either being killed one-by-one or being abducted never to be seen again.
But let us not give up, let us not lose hope. As cliche as it may sound, the only way for evil people to triumph – or the culture of impunity to prevail in this country – is for good and responsible people to do nothing.
Let us chase Lady Justice no matter how exhausting, no matter how it seems to be hopeless, and no matter how long it takes.
Justice for the Victims of the Ampatuan Massacre. Never Forget. Never again.
- 1,000 Days without Justice – Interakaksyon.com’s comprehensive page about the Ampatuan Massacre, the continuing battle of the bereaved family members, and the continuing search for justice.