“Kupas na ang itim na suot namin.”
Two years ago today, 58 people were mercilessly murdered and unceremoniously buried in shallow mass graves in a town called Ampatuan. 32 of them were journalists. Up to now, there is no remarkable movement by the ever-elusive Lady Justice—she’s not raising her sword, and there is no assurance that the balance beam is not teetering on one side. We can’t even be positive that her blindfold is still intact.
I took the photographs above on the 6th month commemoration of the Maguindanao Massacre, when I was still an intern at the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR). Candles were lit, the same pleas were said, the same banners were waved, and on a yellow freedom board called the Dear Noynoy Wall, people wrote their messages to the President regarding the harrowing crime. An American mediaman wrote there, “Sir, don’t let the Philippines become a failed state.” That was one year and four months ago.
We never knew if our messages were read by the President, but one thing is clear: if our justice system remains the same, then it is a confirmation that our country is a failed state.
We never forget. This is the epitome of all the unresolved killings in the country and yet, two years later, no one has paid the price. Our black clothes for mourning have all but faded, and we’re still here, dreadfully watching the pace of the trial that seems to last for an eternity. When will this be resolved? When is the barrel of the gun going to stop silencing the public servants who just want to exercise their freedom of expression?
We will never forget.