Different media institutions and students all over Davao City gathered last November 23 at room F213 of the Ateneo de Davao University to commemorate the 2nd Davao Media Freedom Day and 1st International Day to End Impunity.
The event, which was sponsored by Sun.Star Davao, GMA Davao, ABS-CBN Davao, DXRA, and MindaNews, featured keynote speakers such as Stella Estremera (Sun.Star Davao’s Editor-in-Chief), Carol Arguilles (MindaNews editor), Ed Fernandez (journalism mentor and veteran journalist), Carlos Munda (Chief Executive Officere of DXRA), Jaime Cristoff (political and economic analyst of the Canadian Embassy), and Yvonne Chua (current fulltime professor at the University of the Philippines-Diliman).
The reason behind the commencement of the program, to raise awareness against extrajudicial killings of media workers that took its toll during the Maguindanao Massacre last November 23, 2009 where out of the 58 victims, 33 were media workers, was presented as the prelude.
This year’s program still paid tribute to media workers all over the country who were unjustly deprived of their lives but had a broader subject as suggested by this year’s theme: “Covering Mindanao: Changing Mindsets and Understanding Conflicts”.
The topics discussed during the event included news as a direct conflict, the use and abuse of media, journalism not as a means for journalists’ self-gratification but rather as a service for others, community communication, and media safety and ethics.
The program’s main gist, however, is how the media can change many people’s negative perception of Mindanao. Only Mindanawons, as Ed Fernandez mentioned, can understand their own experiences and translate them into news.
In remembrance of those who died in what would be considered as the most gruesome bloodbath involving Philippine politics, the program ended with the releasing of the 58 balloons.