The most horrific assault on journalists in contemporary times remains the Maguindanao massacre, despite the global outrage generated by the recent atrocity in Paris. More than 30 media workers on a routine coverage (the filing of a certificate of candidacy) were massacred by thugs along with a gubernatorial candidate’s representatives and next of kin. The murder of 30 journalists, done on the flimsiest of reason and in broad daylight perhaps to show the banality of evil, has not been done by mad men on any place in the planet in contemporary times.
Worse, the murderers were not done after indiscriminately shooting down the more than 50 people in that vehicle convoy.
The limp, lifeless bodies were shoved into a mass grave freshly dug by a backhoe paid for by public money. But not before the limp bodies were pummeled repeatedly by the backhoe’s lethal hoe to break every bone and mangle every body part. Between cannibals cum despots who devoured the torn body parts of political dissidents they had murdered, and the goons that carried out the massacre in Maguindanao, we can’t decide on who were more savage and deranged.
Six years into the mass murder of Filipino journalists—and in the wake of the tragedy in Paris—this question is worth asking. Why, after the feeble expression of outrage after the massacre, is the Maguindanao Massacre an almost forgotten issue? No one seems to care that the quest for justice of those orphaned by the massacre is getting nowhere. And that the current storyline of the trial has shifted from getting justice into official bribery and the usual corruption in the justice system.
Six years into the massacre, not one in Philippine society ever scribbled or uttered the words “Je suis Maguindanao! I am Maguindanao!” to show solidarity with the massacre victims. No one seems to genuinely care that a deranged and power-hungry political family can just be overtaken by the impulse, then murder dozens of people, more than 30 of them provincial journalists, and carry out that heinous act right there and then, as if mocking the civilized modern world that was supposed to govern modern civil conduct.
No one lost a good night sleep. Not the president when it happened. Not the incumbent president. Not the senators of the realm. Not those weepy talking heads (with permed hair, bloated egos and subpar IQs) who routinely wet their eyes with fake tears whenever a great tragedy takes place in our country. The murder of over 50 people, more than 30 of them journalists, was not enough to raise a level of solidarity and outrage that we have seen in the past few days after Islamic fundamentalists killed the editors and cartoonists of the satirical paper Charlie Hebdo and went on a rampage elsewhere that had killed a total of 17 people.
The political family believed to have committed the massacre in Maguindanao was able to assemble a legal team so swiftly and prepare for the defense. They even found dummies that pretended to own their luxury cars and massive real estate holdings. And in the region where they had exercised absolute political power for years, many of their fellow warlords seemed to express support for the heinous act with their total silence. See no evil, speak no evil.
Look at the contrast in the city that elevated the word “fraternity” into the pantheon of their most beloved words.
In Paris, with a bright blue sky cast over one of the world’s most famous cities, more than 40 presidents and prime ministers marched to protest the Charlie Hebdo killings. They joined over 1.6 million others (atheists and Christians, Muslims and Jews, leftists and political conservatives) to march in silence. There were no speeches, just the occasional singing of La Marseillaise and the hoisting of black and white signs with the words “Je suis Charlie.”
It was the first time Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian authority marched together.
At the Golden Globe award ceremonies, the stars fell in hushed silence after actor George Clooney said that the Paris march was not about “marching in protest” but about “marching in support of an idea that we will not walk in fear.”
Indeed, why has no one in Philippine society wrote or uttered “Je suis Maguindanao?”
First is that the murdered were all provincial journalists, that condemned specie of journalism whose fate is to be occasionally murdered by paid goons. There was one such murder in Bataan a few days ago, a faceless tabloid reporter paid by the column inches. Not part of the media elite, the lavishly-paid TV talking heads, the well-connected pundits (those read by presidents he he he), the journalists in the provinces and the regions toil under the most challenging environment.
A displeased warlord can get the cheap hired killers all too willing to kill these anonymous, faceless and unheralded subset of media. Which the warlords often do without remorse. The death toll may place the Philippines on the horror list of the global media watchdogs. But what the heck. No president or national leader for that matter has lost a good night’s sleep over the murder of a promdi journalist.
Second is that outrage in the country over a horrific transgression such as the assault on journalism is short-lived. Outrage with the shelf life of NFA’s rice, we often say. After a burst of screaming headlines and the shrill commentaries, the tempers would ebb, the font sizes of the headlines would shrink. Every anniversary of the massacre, there is some phony clamor for justice. Mostly just for show and the attendant media coverage.
Okay, where is the Left here?
The Left cannot encircle the city from the countryside in an environment where the countryside is a zone of peace and prosperity. The Left can only succeed in a general environment of exploitation and mass misery. The Left’s prayer has always been this: May a thousand Ampatuans bloom.