I “met” Atty. Connie Brizuela in 2006 after Atty. Bev’s Musni (or Nanay as how we fondly call her) gave her my number. Atty. Connie and Nanay are both well-known human rights lawyers.
I was a TV news reporter back then and I had been assigned to cover the people’s organizations, cause-oriented groups and non-government organizations in Northern Mindanao. But I was suddenly re-assigned to the Central Visayas station in Mandaue City, Cebu.
As it was with Nanay, Atty. Connie and I would exchange text message on days celebrating Philippine Independence, Andres Bonifacio’s heroism and Rizal’s death at Bagumbayan. We would exchange messages examining our sense of nationalism, freedom and service to the people.
We would often talk about having coffee if I’d find myself in Cotabato or if she’d be in Cebu or CDO. But November 23, 2009 happened and when I saw the news reports on the victims, I found her name among them. At first I could not believe it, but friends would later tell me that she was among those mercilessly murdered.
I enclose the word met in quotation marks above because despite our exchanges of text messages for a length of time, Atty. Connie and I were never really able to have that cup of coffee we always talked about. And we will never have it now.
It’s been four years since that fateful day. But not much has happened. Some witnesses have been turned, killed or disappeared. Some families are already getting weary of the slow movement of the case. Still justice remains elusive.
May we never forget the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre. May we never forget that impunity still reigns in the country. Justice for the 58! Justice for the victims of impunity in this country!