An estimated 20,000 people from all walks of life filled up to the brim Southeast Asia’s biggest closed-door Araneta Coliseum to witness in what may become the year’s biggest protest concert by media men and performing artists whose battle-cry is justice.
Protest Broadcast 3 held last May 17 was aimed at awakening the fervor and awareness of people about the bloody Maguindanao massacre which took the lives of more than 50 innocent people. Among the total, 30 were journalists and two were media men.
Starting around 8 p.m., the concert opened with the re-enactment of the brutal slaying of the victims, moving almost everyone’s eyes to tears – some angered and pained – when reminded of the barbaric crime and assault to the human rights of the victims. The bereaved families and the audience were visibly seen pained once again just remembering the act.
A video showing footages taken from the scene of the crime showed that the victims were on their way to the Maguindanao Provincial Capitol in Shariff Aguak town on the 23rd of November 2009 to file a certificate of candidacy for the Mangudadatu.
The convoy which included the 32 media people, with four from UNTV, was accosted by armed men allegedly led by Datu Unsay, Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. Also among those killed, the wife and two sisters of the newly-elected Governor Esmael Mangudadatu, who is the political rival of the Ampatuans, were included.
Police reports revealed that the victims were directed to Sitio Masalay in Barangay Salman and were brutally murdered there.
Then last April this year, the Philippines’ Department of Justice dropped the murder charge filed against the suspected Ampatuan clans – Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Zaldy Ampatuan and former Ampatuan town Vice Mayor Akmad Ampatuan – which it later overturned following increased pressure from the public.
While the prime suspects were detained, justice remains elusive. This is one of the reasons why Razon said the cry for justice must continue to serve as a reminder of this dark chapter in the history of journalism and press freedom. Thus, one way to open the eyes of the people could be through a concert presentation, the Protest Broadcast.
The opening number was followed by socially-awakening songs performed by some of the country’s top artists lead by Lolita Carbon of Asin band, Gary Granada, Joey Ayala and Noel Cabangon.
Broadcast journalist and UNTV news head Daniel Razon also performed during the night’s concert. Aware of the heavy emotional bearing of the concert, Razon lighten the mood by singing songs requested by some of the prominent personalities who graced the event.
“Doing good for everyone will surely not bear evil,” is the message left by Razon to the audience, whose majority comprises members of the Ang Dating Daan.
Although Daniel Razon’s brainchild, Protest Broadcast was organized this year by the youth group Bible Readers Society International. In the previous years, such benefit concert is titled Test Broadcast.
This year, the concert series was dedicated for the cause of human rights and media freedom. UNTV, where four of its media men were among those killed, is also one of the lead partners together with Bread Society and advocacy group Kahit Isang Araw Lang.
Mid-way, the bereaved families of the victims especially the widow and the orphaned children were granted scholarship grants from the Manila Business College and cash proceeds from the concert.
International preacher Bro. Eli Soriano graced the event through a live webcast and shared his sentiments about the injustices and human rights violations committed not only to journalists, but to a preacher like himself.
Bro. Soriano, whose popular Ang Dating Daan program is unfairly banned from airing in the Philippines, expressed optimism that the newly-elected administration will be fair to him and the congregation that he leads, the Members Church of God International (MCGI).
The concert ended with the singing of the song, “Isang Araw Lang” and the giving of the platinum award earned in just one night of the Protest Broadcast concert album. (Report by Rose Cemanes)