October 2, 2020


TWENTY TWO Philippine regional and local media groups affiliated with the National Press Club of the Philippines (NPC) have sent a petition to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), urging the world body “to be firm” with earlier decision to declare as “resolved” the infamous 2009 ‘Ampatuan Massacre’ that killed 58 people, 32 of them, members of the press.

Paul Gutierrez, NPC interim president, who signed the petition on behalf of the Club and its 22 affiliates, assailed the UNESCO for its flip-flopping position that he said imperils the claim for indemnity of the victims’s families, some of which are now being heard by the court.
Among the NPC-affiliated organisations who approved of the petition sent via email last October 1, 2020 and addressed to UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay, are the following:
Manila Police District Press Corps; Manila City Hall Press Club; Quezon City Police District Press Corps; Quezon City Press Club; Metro East Rizal Press Corps; Pasig, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Rizal, San Juan (Pamamarisan) Corps; Southern Metro Manila Press Club; Reporters Organization of Pasay City;
Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela (Camanava) Press Corps; National Capital Region Police Office Press Club; Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Press Corps; Press Photographers of the Philippines; Senate Press Photographers Association; PRO4-A Press Corps; Camp Vicente Lim Press Corps; Camp Paciano Rizal Press Corps; Bulacan Press Club; Nueva Ecija Press Club; Sockkssargen Press Club; and NPC Mindanao comprising of the media groups in General Santos City, Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato.

Aside from the NPC and its affiliates, it was learned that separate petitions from the victims’ families as well as other Mindanao-based media groups were also sent to UNESCO, all asking for the reinstatement of its original position.

The NPC petition noted that UNESCO’s backtracking runs contrary to its own policy of declaring the status of any case of media killing as ‘resolved’ when the “perpetrators of the crime has been brought to justice and been convicted by a court of law.”

Last July 31, 2020, Mr. Moez Chackchouk, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, confirmed in a letter to Philippine Permanent Ambassador, Ma. Theresa Lazaro, that with the conviction of the principal suspects in the massacre last December 19, 2019 by Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes, presiding judge, Branch 221, Quezon City Regional Trial Court, UNESCO had considered the case as “resolved” and would be reported as such by Azoulay.

However, last September 24, 2020, UNESCO Deputy Director General Xing Cu, sent out another letter stating the world body is backtracking on its original position “until such a moment when a final verdict” is reached by the Philippine judicial system.”

The opposition to declare the massacre as ‘resolved’ came from the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), together with other leftist organisations in a petition they lodged before the UN body last September 12, 2020.

“These criminals have been languishing in jail for a decade and will remain imprisoned for several decades more with no possibility of parole,” the NPC pointed out.

“What more is UNESCO looking for before it considers this matter as ‘resolved,’ the NPC asked, adding, “Let the evidence speak for itself.”
The NPC also noted that the NUJP’s petition runs contrary to the stand of the victims’s families and the legitimate media organisations in the Philippines as evidenced by their separate petitions of protest to UNESCO.

“With due respect and as shown by the separate petitions/manifestos signed by our Mindanao colleagues and the victims’ families themselves that were separately sent to your office, the ‘petition’ that Mr. Cu gave so much importance on is a worthless piece of paper.”

The NPC also warned that the NUJP’s petition is aimed at further “aggravating” the “injustice” suffered by the victims’ families as it actually favours the position of the Ampatuans.

“(The Ampatuans) are sure to use the UNESCO retraction as further basis not to immediately pay the compensation obligated to them by the court and into the distant future,” the NPC stressed.

“Tellingly, the UNESCO is allowing itself to be a party to the further denial of justice for the victims for the benefit of a group who has never been the ‘voice’ nor the ‘real representatives’ of the media in the Philippines,” the NPC added. (30)


About Author

Comments are closed.