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."