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A complete list of the 30 Media Martyrs of Maguindanáo

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Of the 57 victims of the infamous Maguindanáo Massacre (others report 64), more than half were journalists. Here is the complete list so far (in alphabetical order) of the 30 Media Martyrs of Maguindanáo (compiled by the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists):

• Adolfo, Benjie—Gold Star Daily, Koronadal City
• Araneta, Henry—radio dzRH, General Santos City
• Arriola, Mark Gilbert “Mac-Mac”—UNTV, General Santos
• Bataluna, Rubello—Gold Star Daily, Koronadal
• Betia, Arturo—Periódico Iní, General Santos
• Cabillo, Romeo Jimmy—Midland Review, Tacurong City
• Cablitas, Marités—News Focus, General Santos
• Cachuela, Hannibal—Punto News, Koronadal
• Caniban, John—Periódico Iní, General Santos
• Dalmacio, Lea—Socsargen News, General Santos
• Decina, Noel—Periódico Iní, General Santos
• Dela Cruz, Gina—Saksi News, General Santos
• Dohillo, Eugene—UNTV, General Santos
• Duhay, Jhoy—Gold Star Daily, Tacurong
• Gatchalián, Santos—dxGO, Daváo City
• Legarte, Bienvenido Jr.—Prontiera News, Koronadal
• Lupogan, Lindo—Mindanáo Daily Gazette, Daváo City
• Maravilla, Ernesto “Bart”—Bombo Radyo, Koronadal
• Merisco, Rey—Periódico Iní, Koronadal
• Momay, Reynaldo “Bebot”—Midland Review, Tacurong
• Montaño, Marifé “Neneng”—Saksi News, General Santos
• Morales, Rosell—News Focus, General Santos
• Núñez, Victor—UNTV, General Santos
• Perante, Ronnie—Gold Star Daily correspondent, Koronadal
• Parcón, Joel—Prontiera News, Koronadal
• Razón, Fernando “Rani”—Periódico Iní, General Santos
• Reblando, Alejandro “Bong”—Manila Bulletin, General Santos
• Salaysay, Napoleón—Mindanáo Gazette, Cotabato City
• Subang, Ian—Socsargen Today, General Santos
• Teodoro, Andrés “Andy”—Central Mindanáo Inquirer, Tacurong

Remember 11/23/09

More than a hundred journalists have already been killed since Marcos was ousted in 1986. More than half of them –74 to be exact– were executed since 2001, when Arroyo and the military (with the “covert” support of the US government, of course) stole the presidency.

This massacre will never weaken the media. Especially the new mediathe bloggers.

This senseless violence has only strengthened our resolve to uphold the truth no matter what. We shall all continue the mission of The 30 Media Martyrs of Maguindanáo, whether in print or the airwaves or via the net.

So to all you demons in coat and tie (or in terno during SONAs), wallowing in power and bloody wealth inside your respective administrative buildings — BRING IT ON!

There is no way you can stop the Fourth Estate. And you can bet your ugly spouses and goblin-looking children with that.

Man, even his putong is branded: Lacoste!

*******

Special thanks to the Facebook group WE CONDEMN THE MAGUINDANÁO MASSACRE for the photos. Add them up on your Facebook account and show your support against this evil!

Maguindanáo Massacre: is our country the most dangerous place for journalists?

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Is our country the most dangerous place for journalists?

Throughout the years, countless media men in the Philippines have died in the line of duty. It is not uncommon for human rights groups to criticize the government over its lack of ability to counter these harrowing tales of violence against members of the Fourth Estate. Not too long ago, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility declared the Philippines as the second most dangerous place for media practitioners, second only to war-torn Iraq!

Some found this declaration offensive, yet many claim this to be true. But early last Monday, all debate regarding this matter was silenced when more or less 50 people –30 of whom were journalists– were abducted and brutally murdered. All in the name of political warlordship.

Campaign season hasn’t even begun.

It’s saddening how our country makes news. Recently, Manny Pacquiáo and Efren Peñaflorida made headlines, bringing glory to our country. But all that fame and honor were quickly wiped out by this bestiality courtesy of (allegedly) Datu Unsay town mayor Datu Andal Ampatuan, Jr.’s men. If they are men at all.

The Ampatuan warlords of Maguindanáo are known political allies of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Is this the way she wants her administration to end — with a big and bloody exclamation point?

But before Malacañang Palace answers that question (if they ever will), let us go back to the original query: is the Philippines the most dangerous place for journalists?

Sadly, Iraq will have to move down from being number one.

*******

Inquirer man recounts harrowing tales of survival

TACURÓNG CITY, Philippines—Ian Subang, a long-time friend and former colleague in the now defunct Gensan Media Cooperative, was in his usual jovial mood, poking fun and exchanging jokes with us.

Alejandro “Bong” Reblando, Manila Bulletin reporter covering the Socsksargen area—South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos—was, as always, in his fighting mood—insistent and persistent with his own opinion.

He always came late to media events, the reason why we used to tease him “The Late” Bong Reblando. Now, he will forever be called such.

That was last Monday morning, a few hours before the mass killing took place in Maguindanáo province.

The painful truth that these guys together with 32 other media colleagues met death in the hands of a ruthless band of goons just won’t sink into my consciousness, not even now.

Ian would usually play the role of a clown and he could easily make anyone in the group smile with his jokes.

Bong, the most senior among us, was contented with the role of big brother to us. He was already a radio reporter when I was in high school way back in the 1980s.

Early Monday morning, a few hours before they were abducted and slaughtered, we were enjoying a breakfast of “pastel”— a kind of stew—served to us by our host.

An intense yet cordial exchange of ideas ensued as this reporter, Reblando and two other journalists discussed with ARMM Assemblyman Khadafy Mangudadatu the security concerns and the scenarios that may arise later that day.

Subang and his group, including several other reporters, were gathered outside the living room of Mangudadatu’s mansion in Buluan town, Maguindanao.

They were waiting for the result of our brainstorming inside. There were just six of us in that discussion—Mangudadatu legal counsel Cynthia Oquendo-Ayon, Khadafy, Reblando, Joseph Jubelag, Paul Bernáldez and myself.

We were insisting that reporters covering the scheduled filing of certificate of candidacy of Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu must be assured of their safety. Toto is eyeing the gubernatorial seat in Maguindanao.

Toto had requested for security escorts from Chief Superintendent Paisal Umpa, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanáo (ARMM) police regional director, but his request was turned down.

He turned to the Philippine Army for help but his request was also denied.

Had the police or military provided security escorts, the mass slaughter of defenseless women and journalists might have been prevented.

According to the Mangudadatus, a week before the massacre, there were massive movements of the Ampatuan’s armed followers—police, civilian volunteers and Cafgu members—in the area.

Believing in the power of the media, Mangudadatu, who felt helpless then, asked help from the media.

He requested several journalists—through Henry Araneta of DZRH—to cover the scheduled filing of his certificate of candidacy at the Commission on Elections provincial office in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanáo.

Araneta managed to invite 37 journalists from the cities of General Santos, Tacurong and Koronadal.

“Maybe, they will not harm us if journalists are watching them,” Mangudadatu said.

Mangudadatu disclosed that he organized a group of women led by his wife, Genalyn, elder sister Vice Mayor Eden Mangudadatu of Mangudadatu town, Bai Farinna Mangudadatu, the youngest of the Mangudadatu siblings, and lawyers Cynthia Oquendo-Ayon and Connie Brizuela.

The gubernatorial aspirant claimed reports had reached him that the Ampatuans had threatened to chop him into pieces once he filed his COC with the Comelec.

“Under our tradition, Muslim women are being respected. They should not be harmed just like innocent children and the elders,” Mangudadatu stressed.

Governor Andal Ampatuan ran unopposed in the 2007 elections.

Mangudadatu claimed that the Ampatuans were considered above the law, warlords and political demigods in Maguindanáo.

But, he said, someone must come to the fore to bring about change and improve the lives of the Bangsamoro people.

He said that women from Buluan should be the ones to file his COC, no security escorts, only journalists to avoid creating tension.

Eden, along with his sister-in-law and younger sister, was in a jovial mood before the departure. She was saying that Muslim women should play a more active role in Maguindanáo politics to attain genuine social change and economic progress.

“This is women power in action. Let’s help our men chart a better future for the province,” she was heard as saying.

We were confident nothing bad would happen as some of us in the convoy had been frequent visitors to the Maguindanao provincial capitol.

Even while inside the vehicles, the group enjoyed each other’s company. There was no hint of the heartbreaking and vicious fate awaiting them.

All in all, there were 58 persons—37 journalists, 16 Muslim women who handcarried Mangudadatu’s COC and five drivers—in the convoy.

After several attempts, I was able to contact Major General Alfredo Caytón, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, through a mobile phone.

He gave an assurance that the national highway going to Shariff Aguak had already been cleared and was safe for travel. He even added that police checkpoints littered the long route from Isulan town in Sultan Kudarat to Shariff Aguak.

Five convoy vehicles left Buluan around 9:30 a.m. Monday. The lead vehicle was an L-300 van of UNTv.

Aside from UNTv reporter Victor Núñez, his cameraman and driver, Paul Bernáldez and myself joined in.

However, while the convoy was refuelling in Buluan, I decided to transfer to Joseph Jubelag’s vehicle to accompany him. Bernáldez followed suit.

The five-vehicle convoy went ahead and we just told them we will follow right away.

We decided to drop by BF Lodge in Tacuróng City where we stayed the night before to get some valuables and meet some personal necessities.

I didn’t expect that such digression would save our lives. I should have been there. I should have been killed together with them.

Two hotel attendants approached me and revealed that two unidentified men riding on separate motorcycles had left barely three minutes earlier.

The hotel personnel claimed the two men were asking for the names of journalists covering Mangudadatu’s filing of COC.

Luckily, the hotel management did not give any name.

This made us change our minds and we decided not to go to Shariff Aguak.

On our way back to Buluan, we tried several times but failed to establish contact with our media colleagues in the convoy.

Upon arrival in Buluan, the vice mayor told us that all the five vehicles had been seized by the Ampatuans’ armed followers.

Not only journalists, family members, relatives and supporters of Mangudadatus were abducted and killed.

Military sources disclosed that several other innocent motorists from Buluan and Tacuróng City were seized and summarily executed on mere suspicion that they, too, were followers of the Mangudadatus.

Out of the 34 journalists abducted and brutally killed, only 25 were identified.

They were Ian Subang, Leah Dalmacio, Gina Dela Cruz and Maritess Cablitas, all of Mindanáo Focus, a General Santos City-based weekly community newspaper; Bart Maravilla of Bombo Radyo-Koronadal City; Jhoy Duhay of Mindanáo Goldstar Daily; Henry Araneta of DZRH and Andy Teodoro of Central Mindanáo Inquirer.

Neneng Montano of Saksi weekly newspaper; Alejandro “Bong” Reblando of Manila Bulletin; Victor Núñez of UnTv; Macmac Arriola, UnTV cameraman; and Jimmy Cabillo, a radioman based in Koronadal City.

Rey Merisco, Ronnie Perante, Jun Legarta, Val Cachuela and Humberto Mumay, all Koronadal City-based journalists.

Joel Parcón, Noel Decena, John Caniba, Art Belia, Ranie Razón and Nap Salaysay.

On Monday evening, gory scenes of slain media colleagues kept flashing in my mind. I didn’t have a decent sleep, for the very first time in my life.

Once again, several working journalists shed their blood in the name of press freedom.

This, however, will not deter us or discourage us from doing our job as journalists.

Underpaid and under threat, be that as it may, we will continue answering the call of our beloved profession.

With blood on their hands?

The Underlying Order: Us

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To my fellow bloggers…

A fractal structure. Whatever that is.

A fractal structure. Whatever that is.

I once read a book which dealt mainly on evolution. The book made a bold theory that behavior, and not giant meteors, climate change, and the like, is mainly responsible for the extinction of dinosaurs. Such cataclysmic event naturally gave rise to a domino effect on the earth’s ecological equilibrium millions of years ago. The effects of mass extinction which happened during that time are, most likely, still extant in our era.

Behavior (and this pertains not only to human or animal behavior, but to other inanimate behavioral systems as well), scientists say, is crucial to survival and the orderliness of different organizational systems, be they natural or man-made. That is why mathematics, which is perhaps the most orderly and perfect of all sciences, deemed it necessary to put behavior under one of its spheres of duty: chaos theory.

Chaos theory deals with the study of calculating, analyzing, and interpreting turbulent and unpredictable systems such as the current of river assemblages, the stock market, rioting crowds, rage-crazed student rockers who ruin a concert (guilty…), and weather disturbances to name a few. As such, nonlinear mathematics is used since chaotic systems have irregular patterns unlike the regular ones that we have been studying since the advent of mathematics and logic.

But we’re communication brats, (i.e., bloggers). So let’s scrap mathematics from here.

The reason why I try to emphasize some of the nuances and idiosyncrasy of behavior is that we, the so-called “modern” or “online” journalists, have a very significant role in channeling the course of human behavior.

In whatever field a blogger (as mass communicator) must specialize in the acreage of mass media, he/she must always bear in mind the expansive responsibility one would encounter in dealing with mass communication. Information is gold. Therefore, we should inculcate in our minds what Peter Parker had learned from his Uncle Ben when everybody’s friendly neighborhood college kid noticed that he could stick his butt into walls and ceilings after being bitten by a radioactive arachnid: “with great power comes great responsibilities.”

So if a blogger prefers to barge directly into the world of information dissemination, i.e., news, then he/she must be as responsible as a public servant (I think that’s too much to hope for, LOL!!!). But having a role in the realm of the Fourth Estate is more prestigious than landing a spot in the doddering world of politics. News content tends to become hazy and distorted, thus losing much of its credibility. A communications practitioner should be very much aware of this circumstance, of course. In addition, one must possess intelligent views and discreet public opinion.

Oftentimes, a blogger has to deal with advertising (AdSense, anyone?). And when bloggers do enter this colorful world of online advertising, they should take notice of that field’s powerful influence towards the buying public. Responsibility and good taste (if morality is “too strong” a word for some people) must be in line with the goal of profitability. If this is not so, then expect to see more ads in the same tune as those explicit, sexually suggestive, and sometimes sadistic deodorant commercials (and they sell very well, unfortunately).

And so it is, too, with public relations. It would be very helpful to have an overview, as well as a review, of human socialization and the sociological processes that could help understand human behavior much better. That would help PR men in dealing with people of different behaviors. It might even help us understand why some Fil-Italians fall prey to congressional cretins (but I think psychoanalysis should be the one to handle that, if not parapsychology, LOL!!!).

In conclusion, let me share to you that it’s not all chaos in chaos theory. Scientists say that in every turbulent system, there is an underlying order affixed to it so as to keep it in a natural balance. That is why nature is perfect (an earthquake is even dubbed as a “natural” disaster).

So to all bloggers serving as mass communicators, I wish you all good luck in steering the course of human history through the intelligent management of human behaviorism.

See you ‘round the net. =)

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