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article imageCanada, UN seek help in Philippine media killings Special

By Romeo Marquez     Nov 19, 2011 in Politics
Toronto - A poignant ceremony was held on Saturday in Toronto in remembrance of the mass killings of 32 journalists in the Philippines on Nov. 23, 2009.
Journalists and concerned Filipinos in Toronto signed a petition on Saturday seeking the help of the United Nations and the governments of the Philippines and Canada to do justice for 32 mediamen massacred two years ago and their families.
First to sign the document were the 40 people who attended the commemorative event at a labor union office on Wellesley St. in downtown.
Philippine Consul General Pedro Chan promptly endorsed it, stressing that "all Filipinos should be for press freedom".
Attendees gather around a table where pictures of the massacre of 32 journalists in the Philippines ...
Attendees gather around a table where pictures of the massacre of 32 journalists in the Philippines were displayed.
The mass killings - the worst single event for journalists anywhere - were perpetrated allegedly by a powerful political clan in southern Philippines closely identified with the disgraced former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who has now been placed under arrest in Manila on a different case.
"Most of the women who were with them (the journalists), including two pregnant women, were raped, and after they were raped, the breasts were slashed and also the genitals," recalls Edwin Mercurio, chair of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines Canada, his voice choking.
He said witnesses had pointed to the perpetrators as "a hundred armed men, which include the military, police and the personal bodyguards of the Ampatuan clans, Mayor Andal Ampatuan and the governor whose father was involved in the killings and also the family of the Ampatuan clans."
Journalist Tenny Soriano recited the names of each of the murdered journalists while 32 candles were lit in remembrance of their sacrifice.
Jojo Geronimo (center)  a priest and activist  talks about the massacre and its impact on Philippine...
Jojo Geronimo (center), a priest and activist, talks about the massacre and its impact on Philippine journalism.
"There is another important story to be told, the story of heroism," says Jojo Geronimo, a priest and labor activist.
"Yes we are aggrieved but we're also inspired. Yes we are angered but we're also hopeful. So when we tell the story, let us not be lost in the gory details, gory though it may be. It's a story of heroism. It's a story of resistance. It's a story of hope. So here comes the story of 32 journalists and our story, our story for freedom," Geronimo states.
Newspaper editor Butch Galicia remembered two of the victims - his friends - who, after having gone to a news coverage, would always check on each other with the words "are you still alive?" They're dead now, but Galicia, putting his right hand on his heart, gestured that they're very much alive.
"It's not a matter of death that makes someone a hero . . . whatever is the manner of death . . . a hero serves the people to his very last breath . . ." intones Belinda Corpuz, a University of Toronto music student. Her song concluded the memorial ceremony.
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