The Journalism Studies Association of the Philippines (JSAP) and the Philippine Press Institute will host a forum commemorating the Ampatuan Massacre on Friday, November 19 at 1 p.m.

The webinar, called Walang Forgive and Forget: Ampatuan Massacre and the May 2022 Elections, will tackle pressing issues faced by journalists today.

Atty. Perry Solis of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security will open the forum with updates on the Ampatuan Massacre case. National Union of Journalists of the Philippines chair Jonathan de Santos will talk about the continuous fight for justice.

The program will also feature messages from relatives of the massacre’s victims.

A dangerous country for journalists

On November 23, 2009, 58 people were killed and buried on a hilltop in Ampatuan, Maguindanao. 32 of the victims were members of the media who were supposed to cover Toto Mangudadatu’s filing of candidacy for governor against the ruling Ampatuans.

JSAP Founding President and Chair Lucia Tangi said that the webinar aims to remind people, especially young journalists, of the dangers the profession entailed.

“We want people, especially students of journalism and communication who were probably in grade school when the massacre happened, to remember how dangerous our country is for journalists,” she said. “At the same time, I hope [the younger] generation will strive to make our country a safer place to practice journalism.”

As of Nov. 15, 62% of the 123 registered participants are students. Other participants include media practitioners and educators. 

The Ampatuan Massacre is considered the world’s single deadliest attack on journalists. This helped cement the Philippines’ place as one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist. 

Moving forward

In the webinar, Red Batario of the Center for Community Journalist and Development will be discussing the country’s plan of action for the safety of journalists in the Philippines. 

Participants of the webinar also expressed their hope to protect the country’s journalists and defend press freedom. 

“Discussions such as this are important because it guides us on how we can move forward and prevent the tragic incident from happening again,” said one of the registrants. 

Tangi emphasized the importance of talking about the role of journalists in politics especially with the 2022 elections coming up. 

“The massacre happened during an election period […] Journalists must learn the lessons from this,” she said. “Journalists must always think of their safety especially in a country that is considered as a dangerous place for journalists.”

The webinar will also hold an open forum for participants who wish to know more about the topics discussed. 

“The lessons that I would learn in this webinar would be a great help for my mini-talks with my org mates, friends, and acquaintances,” one of the participants said. 
Interested participants to the forum may still register here. DZUP

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