(Hong Kong, April 29, 2010) In recognition of the work, life and the professionalism of the 32 journalists murdered in the Maguindanao massacre, a group of veteran journalists in Hong Kong had given them posthumous plaque of recognition.
Myrna Reblando, the spokesperson of Justice Now!, the organisation of the families of journalists murdered in the massacre, received the plaque of recognition on behalf of the group from the Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC) in Hong Kong on April 17.
“To all of you (journalists) I am thankful, on behalf of all our members (of Justice Now!) because you still continue to understand and gives your time, especially on this occasion to hear our voice,” Myrna said in her acceptance speech.
Myrna is the widow of Alejandro “Bong” Reblando, who was writing for the Manila Bulletin, a national daily in the Philippines at the time of his death. He also wrote for several wire agencies, like Reuters and the Agence France-Presse.
The FCC Hong Kong holds their annual Human Rights Press Awards (HRPA) in cooperation with Amnesty International-Hong Kong section (AI) and the Hong Kong Journalist Association (HKJA), in recognition of the excellent work of journalists on human rights themes.
Although the plague of recognition has not been part of the HRPA’s category of award, the FCC and the organisers nevertheless presented it in recognition of the work of the murdered journalists and to highlight the risk and danger journalists face in performance of their profession.
It was an employee of the Asian Human Rights Commission who prefers not to be named who put forward the idea of making a posthumous award in recognition of his former colleagues. Three of his personal friends were amongst those murdered in the massacre.
He said, “It was a month after the massacre took place. I thought to myself what can I contribute and help for friends who were killed in the massacre; and I thought maybe giving them recognition (outside the Philippines) for their work; their lives and professionalism would be meaningful.”
English translation of Myrna’s speech:
To thank all of you who are here may not be enough. Even to get my passport (to come to Hong Kong) was a difficult struggle for me because our enemy is our own government. When the Maguindanao massacre happened, the government had approached us giving us small amount of money for our loved ones who had been killed. But after that no one has given us any hope or help to continue the justice that we are fighting for.
It is a difficult struggle for us. Who are we? We are (only) widows, parents of those who were killed. All of us are poor. No one amongst us is rich but our enemy is the government. The same government who had cuddled (the perpetrators) who had become monster who had killed many people, many journalist not only one but 57 people (32 of them are journalists).
We are not fighting only for our own, but we are fighting also for all the journalists. This fight is difficult for us, but God has mercy and it is from him where get our strength because no one is helping us to continue the justice that we are fighting for. It is difficult, if only you know how we feel now. We don’t have strength, we have no voice, but we continue to live and continue to fight.
To all of you I am thankful, on behalf of all our members (of Justice Now!), because you still continue to understand and give your time, especially on this occasion to hear our voice, which means even though we are lowly (people) all of you who are here are there for us giving us hope.
BELOW IS ALSO THE FULL TEXT OF MYRNA’S STATEMENT WHICH SHE WAS UNABLE TO READ:
People of the world, ladies and gentlemen good afternoon.
In behalf of all the bereaved families of the Maguindanao massacre of the Philippines, I am with all my heart accepting this rarest award you now give. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You are all helping us to become more courageous and bolder in our fight for JUSTICE NOW.
Yes, JUSTICE NOW! Our fighting cause for victims of injustices who are now suffering from material, economic, and psychological troubles due to slow-turtle-like search for our security to attain normally.
We recently organize a group we call JUSTICE NOW purposely to facilitate our common goal to attain what our constitutional right guaranteed to us but the present government is depriving us the true spirit of a speedy trial under the current situation.
It is very discouraging to note those responsible criminals especially the principal perpetrators live luxuriously in their temporary detention centers. They really are special people because of their political influences coupled with billions of money moving behind scene but publicly known and felt by all of us, the victims of this horrible and hell-like atmosphere.
We are asking, searching for justice and faith. Why the present government never officially declared what happened to the questionable wealth of this particular family who have palatial mansions scattered in Mindanao Island, including condominiums in Cebu and Metro Manila? These families live like king and queens, with arms and ammunitions better equipped if not equal to the capability of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Several hundreds of its die hard followers were still loose and free. We knew from the start that the rebellion case against these men was part of a bigger plan to ease out the horrible anti sentiments against them.
What happened to the ghost projects manned by these people? Cover up? How many billions involved? Our fight is little by little being shadowed by the most powerful ammunitions they now possessed. Yes, they have billions of money to ease out our noble and timely cause. They always believe in a quote that when money talks, the truth is silent. These unique monsters stolen money from the people and is moving heaven and earth to silent our cause.
We are beginning to suspect that the present principal accused now under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation might be sacrificed, a candidate seriously for assassination to weaken in their favor the present legal battle for murder case. The official in the Department of Justice made declaration that one of the principal accused from Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, a governor, might be freed or released for lack of evidences against him. Why do they make advanced declaration when only the court of justice has the only right and jurisdiction to declare this unbelievable declaration? Some members of the family of the eyewitnesses were already killed and others might withdraw for security and money consideration. We will continue our fight to the end, delayed of justice for us is truly an act of injustice to the highest reality. Help us pray to become more courageous in this crisis moment of our lives.
Again, thank you very much for all the support you have extended to us. All the supports are highly appreciated.
May God bless us all.