CHICAGO – The head of Canada’s biggest ethnic press organization blamed the carelessness of the Philippine government in Manila for the massacre of 32 Filipino media workers and 26 other civilians in Mindanao four years ago, Filipino-Canadian journalist Romy Marquez of Digital Journal reported.
In a speech, Thomas S. Saras, president of the 828-member print, radio and television journalists, National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada, said that if the freedom of the right to information “was carefully observed by the state (Philippine government) on the day of the tragic killing of the 32 journalists and 26 other civilians, all of them today should be around as a testament of the respect of life, of integrity and of the freedom of the press safeguarded by the government of Manila.”
Saras, editor-in-chief of the Greek-language newspaper Patrides, North American Review, who writes in Greek and in English, spoke at the 10th anniversary and Christmas party of the Philippine Press Club Ontario (PPCO), headed by Rose Tijam. The event was held last Dec. 2 in the Rembrandt Banquet Hall at 930 Progress Ave., Scarborough,Toronto.
Among the dignitaries who attended the event, were Philippine Ambassador to Canada, Leslie B. Gatan, and Toronto’s Consul General Pedro O. Chan.
Saras said the people should understand that the government has a supreme power. But it also faces challenges that prevent it from making intelligent choices. But the people have the power to keep or discard the government “when they vote.”
He said it is a basic principle in a democracy that there should be certain freedoms. “The most important of all for a free democratic state is freedom of information, something very basic for a civilized society.”
But the people have to protect the democratic principles and virtues by working “harder in order to force the authority to respect their responsibilities to enforce the laws for the nation, for the people, to offer (them) education to protect its people for a better living condition.
Saras said, “This is our responsibility to ensure in the name of the people and for the people. This must be the struggle of our lives and this must be the struggle, a struggle without limits. The only limit to election of tomorrow is the doubts of today. In a changing world, in a global village, let’s stand together hand in hand, demanding justice, education, and equal opportunities for all. Poor and rich and the respect of the right of every citizen to life either he is pro or against a specific political philosophy.”
PPCO is headed by Ms. Tijam (freelancer) after Paul de la Cruz resigned last October.