November 23 Movement: A Challenge of Conscience

Photo grabbed from Arkibong Bayan.
Photo grabbed from Arkibong Bayan.

The nation is still in a state of shock over the grisly Maguindanao massacre. With the Arroyo government dragging its feet even in the face of nationwide and international uproar, several groups and individuals met over the weekend and formed the November 23 Movement.

Below is their joint statement which they hope would be published in newspapers across the country on Dec. 1:

A Challenge of Conscience

The brutal, indiscriminate mass murder on Monday in Ampatuan town, in Maguindanao province, raises the ultimate challenge of conscience. It carries the culture of impunity at work in this country to such levels of horror that, if it remains unpunished for long, can send the nation into an inexorable descent into absolute dehumanization.

The crime thus calls for swift justice, which can only be achieved through a credible and independent process, which in turn can only be achieved without the hand of this government – a government justly mistrusted generally and openly friendly precisely to the very members of the clan accused in the massacre.

We, ourselves colleagues of the more than a score journalists who were killed, demand the following:

One, the creation of a commission outside the government to investigate the crime;

Two, the arrest and prosecution of all the people involved in it in any way, as murderers themselves or their protectors;

Three, the formation of a special court to try the case;

Four, fully guaranteed protection for the witnesses;

Five, the disarming and dismantling of all private armies, such as those evidently employed in the massacre.

Six, the enlistment of persons of unquestioned probity in the whole process;

And finally, the resignation of the government if it fails to deliver such basic satisfaction – indeed, the very same government that has encouraged, by partisanship and conspiracy, the culture of impunity of which the massacre has been the most abominable manifestation.

Signed:

Business World
Center for Community Journalism and Development (CCJD)
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR)
College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP)
Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ)
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)
Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI)
Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project (PHRRP)
Philippine Press Institute (PPI)
Ellen Tordesillas
Rommel Rebollido
Edwin Espejo
Froilan Gallardo

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