On the 9th anniversary of the Maguindanao Massacre where 58 people, including 34 media practitioners were brutally killed, former Special Assistant to the President Bong Go is calling on all Filipinos to “stand firm” in protecting the constitutional right of free speech.

“As we remember and continue to seek justice for the victims of this terrible tragedy, we must also make a commitment to uphold the principles of free speech and to pursue a policy that would protect all those who exercise this fundamental right,” says Go.

In a recent ambush interview while visiting fire victims in Pandacan, Manila, he also called for a speedy resolution to the case.

“Ako rin po ay isa sa mga nananawagan para matapos na at masarado na ito, para mabigyan ng hustisya ang mga biktima ng Maguindanao Massacre. Naalala ko pa po ito, isa ako sa mga tinawagan ni Mayor Mangudadatu noong panahon ng may nawawala sa lugar nila at humingi ng tulong kay Mayor Duterte. Mabilis ho kaming sumaklolo kaagad sa kung ano pong maitulong namin during that time. Sa mga pamilya ng mga naiwan ng biktima sa Maguindanao Massacre, sa mga naulila at mga naiwan, ano man ang pwede ko maitulong sa inyo in my capacity right now lalong lalo na po sa media, willing po akong tumulong sa inyo, sa pagpapagamot, o kahit ano mang kailangan,” he said.

The victims of the massacre were mostly from a caravan that was on its way to file the certificate of candidacy of Esmael Mangudadatu, who was challenging Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., son of then incumbent Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr.

The people killed included Mangudadatu’s wife, his two sisters, journalists, lawyers, aides, and motorists who were witnesses or were mistakenly identified as part of the convoy.

In the past, Go has cited the critical role media plays in nation building and has called on the industry to be the government’s partner in development.

“Importante ang role na ginagampanan ng media sa lipunan. Sila ang pangunahing source ng impormasyon ng ating mga mamamayan. Kaya importante din na maging kakampi natin sila sa pagsulong ng kaunlaran sa lahat ng sulok ng ating bansa,” says Go.

Go said he continues to grief for the families of the victims as well as the whole media community who are still seeking justice for the victims.

“Isang malaking kawalan sa ating lipunan, lalo na sa community journalism, ang mga kinitil na buhay. I offer my deepest sympathies to the families of the victims. I am one with you in remembering the heroic lives of your loved ones,” he said. ###

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