I wouldn’t say I did a lot last Wednesday, November 23, when media groups and journalists in my city gathered to remember those who died in Ampatuan, Maguindanao two years ago.
As a matter of fact, I don’t think I did anything at all. An interfaith rally was held at the Freedom Park in Roxas Avenue as international media groups marked the date as a Day to End Impunity.
I wasn’t there.
I was busy attacking Japanese food somewhere for a magazine interview and I forgot to wear black.
But that didn’t mean I cared less. I’m a little confused and I’ll take a step forward from there.
Here’s what happened: “On 23 November 2009, Esmael Mangudadatu planned to register his candidacy for governor of Maguindanao. His rivals from the Ampatuan clan – who have controlled Maguindanao since 2001 with the backing of the Philippine government – had vowed to block his efforts, so instead he sent along journalists and some female relatives, believing they would be safe. An hour into the drive, 200 armed men ambushed the convoy; 58 people, including 32 journalists and media workers, were slaughtered in the single deadliest incident for journalists in history. (from http://daytoendimpunity.org)”
Two years ago, when the news broke, I was a lowly contributor in our newspaper. I didn’t understand how such great evil could actually exist in the industry, in the workplace, and in my homeland.
The number of journalists killed in our country (and around the world) is increasingly overwhelming that, for someone like me back then, it’s almost impossible to be encouraged to stay in the journalism world and pursue the profession. But here I am, pretending to feel numb, but actually raging inside.
How could such a strong yearning for power and dominance actually eat up what makes us truly human: empathy? I won’t rant at the government for the slow-paced trials and for their seemingly inefficient mechanisms to seek justice — doing so is like lying to myself: it’s tiring and it’s not doing any good.
Perhaps I can take action in my own way by being informed, and by making those around me feel the need to care. Because I know I’m not the only one who’s confused with what humanity has become.
There’s so much I need to learn about why these things happen: warlordism, impunity, corruption. They happen everywhere.
And we’re all on a deadline: As more time passes, justice seems to become even more elusive. I need to learn to raise a red flag on these incidents on a regular basis. Because if it could happen to them, it could happen to me.
More importantly, it could happen to anyone else.