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ROUGH CUTS | These certainly are eyesores

Last Wednesday, November 23, was the 13th anniversary of what many call as the ignominious day for the freedom of the press. Yes, 13 years ago last Wednesday more than fifty persons, majority of them media men, were waylaid by armed men who were known as the private army of the late  Governor of the then undivided Maguindanao Province Andal Ampatuan, and subsequently massacred. Some of the victims in fact were buried together with their vehicles in a shallow hurriedly dug grave.

     The mass killing was so blatant that the perpetrators seemed even proud to be identified who they were, believing that they were beyond the reach of the arms of the law. But this time with the whole world watching that development, the authorities decided to do the necessary, if only to show that they cannot be intimidated by a warlord who was basking on his connection with the powers that be.

     In due time the leading suspects were arrested although because of their money were initially enjoying certain privileges that others like them did not.

     But even as the acknowledged kingpin did not see the judgment heaped on him after he died while in detention (hospital that was), the other primary suspects – his sons specially – lived to see their final conviction.

     The death of Andal Sr. and the incarceration of his sons for the massacre, however, were not seen as full justice achieved by the families of the victims. They still see it as wanting because according to them there are a number of people who had participated in the deadly carnage who remain scot free. Others are even back to offices of influence even as some are at large but remain easily accessible.

     As in the past 12 years, the surviving members of the victims’ families gathered in a private cemetery in General Santos City to commemorate the sad incident as well as to reiterate their call for complete justice to the slain media men.

     But as to how long they will be waiting for the kind of justice that will satiate them no one can give the answer.

     However, we personally believe that with the demise of the main suspect, the conviction of his sons who were of course the ones who ordered their lackeys to execute the mass killing, and their immediate fall from power, justice is already attained.

     What we think is more important now is for the victims’ families to keep alive their advocacy for the emergence of honest and pro-people leaders in that now divided province.  In such a way, the resurgence of the kind of leaders like the family of the convicted perpetrators will be obviated.

     In other words, the families of the victims must always be vigilant so that any overt sign of a comeback of such leaders it be immediately brought to the public’s attention.

     And by the way it was that ignominious attack on media persons that the Philippines started getting the tag as the country that is most dangerous for media men. 

     It is a description that is hard to argue to the contrary. And as usual, it is government that is blamed for its inability to protect journalists from harm’s way. But is it totally correct to heap the blame solely on the government? Is it not also innate that journalists should also take a certain degree of responsibility in protecting themselves?

     And what could they do in order to ensure their protection? There is one simple way. It is true that when one is an active practicing media person, in the process he or she will develop enemies. But being fair and allowing those subjects to his/her criticism to give their side will likely tame down the growing beast in them and may even make friends with their erstwhile critic.

     When media men are fair and not subservient to any vested interest, it follows that they will not allow themselves to be used for other people’s evil purpose. That definitely will guarantee them safety.

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     Last Tuesday we were in Calinan Central district for some household errands. While we can now see the orderliness of the place after Barangay Captain Ursi Ungab made some innovations in the management of vehicular traffic in the barangay’s poblacion, we discovered yet another eyesore that needs the captain’s immediate attention.

     While we were negotiating the road from the former Barangay Hall going to the public cemetery, we noticed that directly above the dismantled center island were lengths of tangles wires now popularly dubbed as “spaghetti wires.”

     The tangled wires are so messy looking and are even bringing fears to road users thinking that one of these wires is the electricity-carrying Davao Light lines.

     But we don’t think so because of our experience while working with the company, the moment there are reports of dangling wires teams are immediately dispatched to assuage people’s anxiety of getting electrocuted.

     Of course we have no idea so far if the messy wire situation has already been brought to the attention of the proper authorities and already acted upon accordingly.

     If not then we are calling the attention not just of the power distribution company but of the different telecommunications firms with operations in Davao City including Calinan proper. If the wires are their lines, then these are not likely to hurt people. But they surely are unpleasant to the eyes.

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