Friday, November 27, 2009

Maguindanao Carnage

The carnage of about 57 helpless persons in Maguindanao in the morning of November 23 (Monday) was one of the darkest periods in the political history of the Philippines. It was planned and was allegedly a brainchild of Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr who turned-over himself to the authorities three days after the massacre.

The motive was said to be political with Andal Ampatuan Jr as the prime suspect. The Mangudadatus and Ampatuans were close allies in the past but those ties went sour when they allegedly fought over political power in Maguindanao. Some members of both clans have positions in the local and national government.

But this time, the tension was accordingly fueled anew when Buluan Vice Mayor Ishmael Mangudadatu was set to run against the gubernatorial aspirant Andal Ampatuan Jr. son of incumbent Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. in the coming May 2010 elections.

Instead of himself, Vice Mayor Mangudadatu sent his wife to lead a convoy going to Shariff Aguak for the filing of his certificate of candidacy. But about 100 armed stopped them along the way and carried out the carnage that included media practitioners who were invited to supposedly witness the Mangudadatus’s filing of COC. Earlier, rumors had it that the convoy would be attacked. Perhaps, the reason there were many media personalities that that they thought their presence would be a deterence.

But the attack was carried out by the beasts that according to the testimonies of the witnesses shot practically all victim women at their genitals. Whether the poor victims were raped, that remained to be investigated. There about 22 women victims.

The killers wanted to wipe out all possible witnesses so that they included motorists that happened to catch up with the convoy. Also, a backhoe that belonged to the Municipality of Maguindanao was used to bury the victims to hide traces of the crime. But to no avail because there were those involved - bothered by their conscience - turned witnesses. Also, the authorities have already identified the operator of the backhoe who, according to witnesses, managed to escape before the soldiers arrived at the crime scene.

Tension has engulfed the area as many fear that a “rido” or clan war would ensue. One of the moves of the central government was to disarm all militiamen and took control over the region by putting soldiers in addition to their continuing investigation on the possible participation of some policemen, militiamen and military in the carnage.

So far, various sectors have joined the victims’ families in calling for justice. Swift justice. A multiple murder case has been filed against the suspect Andal Ampatuan Jr. But many sectors are not contented with this development. For instance, Sen. Nene Pimentel has urged to also arrest Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. who, according to him as quoted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, "has a lot of explaining to do in the worst politically-related killing in the country."

Monday, November 9, 2009

On Rey Magno Teves

It's a sad November when I learned that one of the pillars of Federal Mindanao and Philippines, for that matter, untimely passed away last Saturday, November 7, due to acute pneumonia. Rey Magno Teves was 65 years old.

I could not forget our first meeting when I was hired to work for the sustainable agriculture program of TACDRUP in 2003. It was here that I saw in the man the unwavering passion to serve his fellow Mindanaoans. RMT as we called him at the Technical Assistance Center for the Development of Rural and Urban Poor (TACDRUP), had been pushing for the concept and application of federalism not only for the war-ravaged Mindanao but the entire Philippines. That's the reason he was fondly called as "Mr. Pideral." He was a peace advocate and social development worker that has dedicated all his life for Mindanao development.

I believe that he had shared his life so much to the Mindanaoans in various ways as a consistent social activist, journalist, peace advocate and government servant. Once he served as urban poor representative to congress and to various government-based institutions.

I never addressed him "Sir Rey" as some did. Instead, I would casually address him 'Nong Rey." "'Nong or Manong" which means older brother. My manner of addressing him was out of admiration for all he did for us Mindanaoans.

Rest in peace, Sir Rey!