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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Massacre In Maguindanao: My Show Of Protest


"Unprecedented in a democracy. Evil in its entirety. A complete loss of respect for human life. Laws of men flouted with impunity. Who do they think they are? Are they demi-gods?"

I am lost for words. My eyes transfixed on the graphic brutality shown on television. I couldn't muster my spontaneous self to commentate. I kept still. I just pieced every single image. The brutality unleashed its scale beyond belief. Who are the perpetrators? Who are these beasts in Maguindanao?

On the third day since the massacre, fifty-seven dead bodies have been accounted for. This includes men and women from the Mangudadatu clan who were supposed to file for candidacies in the capital. Among the dead were fourteen journalists who were with the convoy to cover the event. Two women lawyers were not even spared. Civilians who just happened to be in close proximity with the convoy also bore the wrath of the criminals. They all died a savage death.

Fortunately for Ismael Toto Mangudadatu - the presumed candidate for governor of the province, he was spared from the carnage but his wife and sister were not that fortunate.

All the dead bore evidences of torture. Most of them were shot at close range, their faces disfigured. Women were raped before being murdered. Their private parts left exposed by the perverts. And many of the dead were buried in a shallow grave aided by the bulldozer owned by the province.

It was later known that rumors of an impending carnage circulated within the town of Ampatuan. This is proof that the plot to murder political opponents had earlier been hatched by the perpetrators. The intent itself to participate in a democratic process was enough to seal the destiny of the victims. Their mortal sin - daring to cross paths with the reigning powerful clan of Maguindanao - the Ampatuans.

Maguindanao is in the heartland of Muslim Mindanao. It is the third poorest province in the country. Its people are called Maranaos. Traditions of clan fightings abound within the area. Political dynasties are norms in the government. Reigning members of the clan hold as many as elective and appointive positions in the government. Even popular actress-politician Alma Moreno was married to a Maranao mayor - albeit in a polygamous set-up. Just few things my brain could store about this now infamous province, among others.

The Ampatuans led by its acknowledged patriarch Andal Ampatuan the governor of Maguindanao, have been close allies with the administration. They were proven to be reliable when it comes to support they could give in any election. True enough, the governor did ensure the victory of Arroyo in 2004, and delivering an inconceivable 12-0 victory to the senatoriables of the administration. Massive cheating was done almost at will in broad daylight, right under the noses of the civilian and military entities. Until now, it is incomprehensible why no one was prosecuted despite all the evidences.

The return of favor from the office of the president would then follow. The Ampatuans were allowed to keep private army for their protection. Some boys as young as ten would be enlisted to the militia - they otherwise call as the CVO or Civilian Volunteers Organization in their own legal assertion. The sight of a rifle-wielding boy ready to protect his lord is not a normal thing one would see in a democratic state. But this has become an accepted norm in Maguindanao for the revered and feared Ampatuans.

As the investigation of this grisly massacre develops, everybody is ready to point fingers at the Ampatuans. Based on early reports, the perpetrators were men of Andal Ampatuan Jr., one of the sons of Andal, the governor of the province who also grooms his son Zaldy to succeed him. The incriminating evidence against the Ampatuans screams loudest of this barbaric incident - only the devil is capable of plotting. No human being could live with the thought of having murdered fifty-seven innocent victims and yet goes on with his normal life.

It is also noted that the aggrieved clan of Mangudadatu are relatives of the Ampatuans through intermarriages - a tradition prevalent among Muslims. Some members of the Mangudadatu clan are also holding powerful positions in the province.The political stranglehold of these two clans in Maguindanao has become so impervious that a gatecrasher to the pen is unimaginable. And so their grip on power all the more tightens. But in this case, even a relative is deemed a threat and so their end had been brutally decided.

Although the call for swift justice is getting louder by the hour, it is still a grim reality that it did actually happen in a democracy like ours. It is difficult to comprehend, that our very own president has created a monster in the form of the Ampatuans. The culture of impunity and complete disregard of the rule of law stemmed from that pampering hand from Malacañan. The question whether justice will be administered in this gruesome massacre remains hanging in the balance.

News of this unthinkable brutality has created a wave of condemnation from international communities. Even the UN Secretary General was alarmed by this incident. Different media rights organizations join the condemnation in the strongest terms possible. And this has consequently elevated the Philippines to the status of being the most dangerous country for journalists. A distinction that this government should be ashamed of.

With all due respect, it is now your time Madame President to shine. Your term in office will certainly end few months from now. You have ample time left to redeem yourself. Honor the legacy of your father in a way that you would want your offspring to honor you in years to come. All the powers and authority is at your disposal. Show the Filipino people that you put this nation above everything else. That in the interest of democracy the rule of law will prevail. That no criminals of bestial character will go unpunished... at least in the remaining days of your office. Don't delay Madame President!

And to the criminals - the evil ones - the murderers - the beasts of Maguindanao - I know you also worship the god of your prophet. You claim to be peacemakers and you're proud of your heritage. The bravery of your ancestors is legendary beyond compare. But your greed has consumed your whole being. You led your people to transgress others outside of your fold . You live lives full of envy, hatred and wrath, that you did not spare even the innocent who are unable to protect themselves.

Your doom is near. Even your confidence of invincibility will wear you down. You will not be spared from the vengeance that the Mighty God has appointed for you. You and your people who take delight in the murders of the innocent. You and your people who feasted on the women whom you raped and murdered. Murderers and perverts, woe unto you! For God has assuredly said in His words,"I will never leave the wicked go unpunished."


Philippine Center For Investigative Journalism / Reporters Without Borders



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4 comments:

isladenebz said...

I too abhor this carnage. It's so inhuman and soul-less. Nakakaiyak. I wonder what kind of people would do such things. And I wonder what kind of government will leave the culprits unpunished. I guess we'll have to see how GMA will handle this considering na kapartido nila ang prime suspect.

anselmo said...

I agree with you as i watch on tv how they treat the suspect,you will notice that Mayor Andal AMPATUAN was not on handcuffed and as well he was protected by his supporters.If an ordinary criminal was on his place will they treated them these way?Anyway he is an ally of the president so to speak.To President arroyo make good as to your last term in office,show the Filipinos that you're with them through these trying times,let justice prevail.

withonespast said...

Pinakita na ng gobyernong ito ang kaduwagan na ipatupad ang batas ng ito'y naghintay para sumuko ang mga mamamatay tao, hindi ba dapat arestuhin ang mga suspek kaagaran? kung si ted failon na inosente sa pagkakamatay ng esposa niya ay inaresto sa ospital habang nakaratay agaw buhay ang mahal niyang kabiyak bakit itong mga demonyong ito, na hindi naman nagtago ay hindi inaresto? nakakapanlumo na makita ang gobyernong di lamang balot ng pagnanakaw at nepotismo, malala ay pagka-inutil nito na proteksyunan ang mamayan nito - paano nga naman kung ang mga gumagawa ng mali ay kaibigan at kasama.

coralbead said...

Uhm, kabayan, just one correction. Maranaos are from Lanao del Sur, not Maguindanao. The Ampatuans are therefore Maguindanaon.

It's sad that this happened and words aren't enough to express everyone's outrage.

It's also sad that decades of neglect and unrest have bred monsters out of the people. i just hope that the court will give the families of the casualties the justice their loved ones deserve. I also personally hope, that in case the court fails, that Muslim Mindanaoans won't hesitate to give these monsters the punishment they deserve, which is death. This should also teach them a lesson that poverty is never an excuse to vote unwisely during the election. I hope too, that we all heed the lessons the tragedy taught us so that we can proudly say "Angat tayong mga Pinoy" instead of "Tanga tayong mga Pinoy."

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