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A Year Later, OPC Presses Philippine President for Urgency in the Maguindanao Investigation
H.E. Benigno Aquino, Jr.
Republic of the Philippines
Fax: (011.63.2) 735.6152
We join our colleagues at the Committee to Protect Journalists in a plea for urgency in the investigation and prosecution of the most horrific massacre of journalists in the history of the world. We refer, of course, to the appalling killing one year ago this day of 32 journalists and 25 political activists in the province of Maguindanao, apparently at the hands of the notorious Ampatuan family clan.
The details of the crime are well known. But as the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) report on the Maguindanao atrocity has pointed out, after a year of investigation of the mass murder of 57 people, there are still only 19 suspects on trial, 47 more in custody but not yet charged, and 130 still at large. There are credible reports that witnesses have been offered bribes, that others have been intimidated or even killed, and that the investigation may have been so sloppy that evidence is hopelessly compromised.
As you must know too well, the Philippines is now third in the world as most dangerous for journalists. By the CPJ’s conservative count, 68 of our colleagues have been murdered there since 1992. There have been only five convictions.
Your Excellency, you have recognized the difficulty of reversing a culture of impunity. If that culture is allowed to remain, your young administration will be tainted. We urge you to launch a new day for the Philippines. We ask that you name a special prosecutor to take over this case, with full authority to crack down on the perpetrators, whoever they may be.
Thank you for your attention to this critical issue. We would appreciate a reply.
Freedom of the Press Committee
H.E. Willy C. Gaa
Ambassador of the Philippines to the U.S.A.
Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines
1600 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Fax: (202) 467.9417
Ambassador Libran N. Cabactulan
Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations
556 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10036
Fax: (212) 840.8602
H.E. Harry K. Thomas, Jr.
U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines
Embassy of the United States of America
1201 Roxas Boulevard
Fax: (011.63.2) 301.2399
Philippine National Union of Journalists
105-A Scout Castor
Barangay Sacred Heart
Fax: (011.63.2) 400.5059