Mass murder in Maguindanao

The President and Zaldy Ampatuan in happier days, courtesy of Newsday

Back on September 7, 2009 in my column A necessary provocation, I pointed out the integral role warlords play in the ruling coalition. Just a week ago, as a photo in Uniffors shows, the Ampatuans were lionized by the ruling coalition. Now comes a mass murder in Maguindanao that is making people wonder if the Palace can stonewall or damage-control things enough not to endanger its political calculations for 2010 and beyond. Mindanews, which should be everyone’s first stop when it comes to anything Mindanao-related, reports it as Ampatuan massacre: 46 bodies recovered:

But aside from the members of the Mangudadatu family, the two lawyers and the estimated 30 journalists who joined their convoy, Dangane said they recovered the remains of several employees of the National Economic and Development Authority in Region 12, city government of Tacurong in Sultan Kudarat and several other civilians.

“They happened to be there (at the highway) and the suspects also held and later killed them,” the police official said…

About a hundred armed men reportedly held and later killed the members of the Mangudadatu family and the two women lawyers and journalists who accompanied the Mangudadatus on the way to the Commission on Elections provincial office in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao to file the certificate of candidacy for Maguindanao governor of Buluan Vice Mayor Ismael Mangudadatu.

The suspects, who were tagged as hired guns of the Ampatuan family, initially stopped the convoy in Barangay Saniag at around 9:00 am and brought them at gunpoint to the vicinity of barangays Salman and Malating, which is about 10 kilometers from the national highway.

A back hoe allegedly owned by the provincial government of Maguindanao was reportedly used in burying some of the victims.

Dangane said they found the abandoned heavy equipment Tuesday morning positioned near the scattered remains of some of the victims and a cliff that appeared to be freshly filled with soil at the vicinity of Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman in Ampatuan town.

One of the earliest commentaries on the massacre was penned by Inday Espina-Varona, Who will protect us from our protectors? It is a powerful indictment:

Today’s outrage brings this country closer to failed state status, and not just because of the number of persons killed. What is truly chilling about today’s tragedy is, that the alleged perpetrators were not just excitable henchmen of a local politician — in this case, Shariff Aguak Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr.

The perpetrators, according to military reports, included not just the mayor and his men but also practically the entire local police force, para military forces and senior police officials.

One hundred men; that’s the equivalent of a company in the military. One hundred men; it’s no wonder that journalists who tried to follow up the carnage could not get a word out of anyone.

Anyone includes the top officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Camp Crame.

Even as media was getting the names of those killed, even as the mayor of Mangadadatu told television reporters about how his wife called him to report being waylaid, even as Major General Alfredo Cayton of the 6th Infantry Division and Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Romeo Brawner Jr. confirmed that the 21 bodies had been recovered in Ampatuan town at around 4:30 p.m., the Public Information Office of the PNP continued to insist they knew nothing of the incident.

We have heard the usual statement of condemnation from Malacanang. They might as well condemn themselves.

The Ampatuan clan played a major role in the fraud that marred the 2004 elections; the fraud that allowed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo another six years in power; the fraud that many of us chose to ignore because the alternative was another outsider-actor in Malacanang.

Maguindanao was where they tried a shutout of Fernando Poe Jr — a zero vote. Maguindanao, as the Hello Garci tapes told us, played a big, big role in ensuring Mrs. Arroyo’s continued hold in power.

Five years since that election, Ampatuan can strike at will, almost reassured of impunity because, after all, nobody ever got punished for the fraud of 2004. On the contrary, many elections officials and military officers implicated in the fraud reaped promotions and other rewards.

Now we are told the government is about to place the entire Maguindanao under military and police control. God help us all, because with protectors like these, we don’t need enemies.

Aside from ritual noises from the administration, the official response continues to be cautious and more focused on press releases than actual executive, military, or police action.

Today’s Inquirer editorial, Warlords, proposes viewing the mass murder in Maguindanao in the context of warlordism as a national and not just local affliction, and, as also pointed out in the Lede Blog of the New York Times, that warlords are a creation of the central government. Moros themselves insist warlordism is a fairly recent phenomenon, even entrenched dynasties in the 1950s and 1960s did not go around with enormous, gun-toting retinues. Warlordism, according to them, resulted from the rebellion in the 1970s and the government’s decision to buttress the armed forces with armed gangs under the command of allies.

The editorial also looks at the things that make the Ampatuans both similar to, and different from, other regional warlords. Warlord impunity is nothing new; but the scale and ferocity of the atrocity are unprecedented; and that can’t be divorced from the Ampatuans themselves enjoying unprecedented levels of power and influence in the ARMM. The editorial says they are unique in that they do not need whoever is the Palace occupant to anoint them as the supreme warlord; for the first time Manila needs them more than they need Manila.

The mass murder presents a problem for the administration, but also, an opportunity. The President proclaimed a state of emergency in Maguindanao and two cities, effectively putting a lid on things. The only problem is, no one seems to have any doubt who the mastermind of the massacre was. The only question, then, is whether the President and the two officials in the front line of handling this situation -Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, with a purview over the armed forces, and Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno, with authority over the national police- can maneuver things so as to pacify public opinion without making a mess of things, politically, for the administration and its political coalition.

More than whether the President can wriggle her way out of the tight embrace of the Ampatuans, there is something that makes me believe that this is a watershed event.

The old province of Cotobato over the years had been gerrymandered (split in 1966 to produce Cotobato and South Cotobato; in 1973 Cotobato divided in three: Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, and Cotobato) so that now, the Ampatuans have Maguindanao (itself divided in two in 2006 with the creation, later declared unconstitutional, of Shariff Kabunsuan) as their fiefdom and the Mangadadatus, Sultan Kudarat. The two clans, according to an Inquirer report, had a falling out over the Mangadadatus showing signs of preparing to challenge the dominance of the Ampatuans and then blocking the creation of a new municipality, Adam, from territory the Mangadadatus controlled.

The Mangadadatu clan going into the 2010 elections, seemed on the verge of forming an alliance with the Liberal Party, and worse (in the eyes of the Ampatuans) was mounting a challenge to their dominance. My understanding of the dynamics of politics in the region based on recent conversations with a resident of the region is that this was less significant in the short-term (the Ampatuans being so entrenched at present, they can stand on their own, with or without being anointed as the Palace choice) but potentially troublesome in the medium-term, specifically, in terms of the 2013 midterm elections.

To be affiliated with the Liberals, for example, in 2010, regardless of success vis-a-vis the Ampatuans, would put the Mangadadatu first in line to be the official candidate of the Aquino administration (if elected in 2010 of course) in 2013, the traditional path to dominance in the region. Both for itself and in terms of its usefulness to the ruling coalition in 2010, the Ampatuans showed every sign of being unwilling to tolerate any sort of challenge: the usefulness of the Ampatuans to national officials lies in their delivering votes lock, stock, and barrel to their national allies. The reputation of the clan -fierce, uncompromising, and ruthless, even for warlords- was such that Toto Mangadadatu himself, whom one can assume is no slouch when it comes to the realities of power, coming from an entrenched dynasty himself, knew prudence was the better part of valor in pursuing his challenge to the Ampatuans. Rather than file his candidacy papers himself, he sent his wife in a caravan to do so on his behalf.

Those unable -or unwilling- to fight fire with fire, who cannot or will not confront warlords and high officials on their own terms -because the powerful have all official and unofficial venues for the redress of grievances in their pockets or because, even if on par with a rival, one is unwilling to call that rival’s bluff- have relied on three antidotes to violence: womankind, the media, and the law.

All three manifested themselves in the decision to send that ill-fated caravan to the Comelec office. Mangadadatu sent female relatives: “Buluan Vice Mayor Ismael Mangudadatu’s wife Jenalyn, his sister-in-law and currently Mangudadatu town Vice Mayor Eden, their youngest sister Bai Farina and his cousins Zorayda Bernan, Raida Sapalon and Rowena Ante Mangudadatu,” as reported by Mindanews; and the lawyers sent to accompany them were women as well: Connie Brizuela and Cynthia Oquendo, who were also slain. Among the conventions that govern clan and political-related violence in the region, is that women, children, and the elderly are off-limits as targets.

And then, there was the media, including both national and regional reporters and correspondents: the glare of publicity and attention is generally considered enough to make even the most hardened of warlords take pause. And, indeed, the story was a big one: the colossal might of the Ampatuans actually facing a challenge.

All three -women being off-limits as targets of political or clan violence; media’s ability not only to cover stories, but to guarantee, in a sense, safety for those who bring their stories forward; and of the law, both in terms of the Mangadadatus pursuing a perfectly legal objective -filing candidacy papers- and of lawyers themselves as persons not to be targets, ceased to matter when the massacre began.

Consider the consequences, and the implications of defying these conventions: more so, if the Palace proves incapable of exacting anything more than a token stab at imposing law, order, and meting out justice in the case of the Ampatuans.

As it is, the President’s proclamation of a state of emergency has put a lid on things; while everyone not on the side of the Ampatuans must calculate the costs of defying their might. And that includes the national government and specifically, the ruling coalition.

Can the ruling coalition expel the Ampatuans from their ranks, as some members have proposed? And if so, how long will it take? What government lawyer will dare a proper investigation, what judge will dare try any potential cases? Can the Department of the Interior investigate and discipline the police, including policemen suspected of participating in the mass murder, and can an armed forces that by the Mangadadatus’ account, declined to secure the national highway on which the doomed caravan was traveling, uphold discipline when Mindanao has been used as place to exile units considered potential threats to the administration itself? Even if the politically-useful thing would be to unleash the armed forces on the Ampatuans if they resist -but so far, the government has been rather diffident in taking up on their expressed willingness to undergo questioning- what would that mean, in terms of the elections?

In many ways, it’s an impossible situation for the administration and all its flailing about shows it. As Mon Casiple points out,

The key elements to watch out for in the next days to come are: 1) if the AFP and the police disarm the armed Ampatuan clan and arrest, charge, and actually convict the perpetrators of the massacre; and 2) if more incidents happen that would portray a nationwide breakdown in peace and order.

It is no secret that the ascension of Mr. Norberto Gonzalez to the Defense portfolio, if only as an acting secretary, has caused apprehension because of his penchant for unconstitutional suggestions on how Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her Malacanang gang can remain in power. The recent sporadic bombings in Metro Manila and this Maguindanao incident are not related, or are they?

Readers may be interested in the following background material.

The first concerns the Ampatuans themselves, from VistaPinas and a satellite photo of the Ampatuan mansion, to the 2008 report, Amid the fighting, the clan rules in Maguindanao. As for Zaldy Ampatuan who had visa problems entering Los Angeles last May, here’s an interview by Carol Arguillas as republished in the blog of Inday Espina-Varona (2007):

Q: I noticed along the way there has not been a single GO poster. So this is definitely a TU country?

A: Actually, Maguindanao province is an extension of the home province of Her Excellency, PGMA (President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) which is Pampanga. Here in Maguindanao, considering that we have 20 mayors unopposed, these 20 mayors are allies of the administration, even those areas with opponents – Pagalungan and Talitay – the opponents are all allies of the administration.

Q: So this is definitely 12-0 here?

A; Basically ganon ang mangyari pero iba ang sabihin ng 12-0. Ang meaning kasi ng 12-0 sa amin dito is yung first 12 candidates na boto ay in favor of Team Unity yung Opposition makakuha from 13 down to the last.

Q: Can you say the same of the provinces of the ARMM

A: Actually in the other provinces of ARMM — in Basilan, considering that the opponents are influential – Gerry (Salapuddin) and the wife of Governor (Wahab) Akbar, the two parties are allies of the administration. In Tawi-tawi, Gov Sahali and opponent, Rashidin Matba, in Sulu, we have Gov Benjamin Loong. He is running for reelection against Sakur Tan and Nur Misuari. All of these candidates are supporting the Team Unity ticket of the administration. In Lanao del Sur, all the four candidates there for governor support Team Unity.

Q: So more or less, considering ou have one of the biggest regions in Minda

A: We have 1.3 million voters.

Q: Which can make or unmake the national candidates?

A: Palagay ko hindi gaano pero malaking factor dito sa Mindanao na makakuha ng majority of votes yung ticket ng Team Unity.

Q: But what about those criticisms that within the ARMM, because of the Hello Garci

A: Well we cannot prevent the opinion of the opposition. Considering we are a democratic country, they can campaign. What is important is we can rectify the negative impression that here in the ARMM, there is cheating.

Q: So this election will prove it?

A: Yes. Because the people will speak

Check out Placeholder on the senatorial results for Maguindanao in 2007. There’s Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 of PCIJ’s “Why you should doubt the Maguindanao electoral results.” There’s this report by the late Alecks Pabico, The Maguindanao vote: Working ‘miracles’ again in ARMM? While Nicodemo Ferrer, of throwing the Bible at Ang Ladlad fame, makes a cameo in Bedol punishment seen as ‘insufficient‘.

Earlier, in 2004, you can compare the ability of the Ampatuans (Maguindanao) and the Mangadadatus (Sultan Kudarat) to “deliver” votes. In 2005, Yvonne Chua wrote Working ‘miracles’ in Mindanao:

On June 2, the President is heard asking Garcillano about the reported mismatch between the COCs and SOVs in Basilan and Lanao. She was assured, “Yung ginawa nilang magpataas sa inyo, maayos naman ang paggawa eh (The upward adjustment they did for you was all right).”

Four days later, she placed another call to seek assurance that the election forms in Maguindanao were consistent. “Hindi naman ho masyadong problema sa Maguindanao (Maguindanao isn’t much of a problem,” Garcillano said.

Official results would show Arroyo winning convincingly in Maguindanao. On May 28, 2004, however, losing Maguindanao gubernatorial candidate Guimid Matalam filed a petition before the Comelec seeking a declaration of failure of elections in 25 of the province’s 27 towns because of alleged electoral fraud there. According to Matalam, the fraud included having election returns prepared even before voting began at 7 a.m. on May 10, 2004 and ballot boxes never being brought to precincts.

At least 37,000 residents of Maguindanao are also being investigated by the local Comelec office on charges of double registration.

Annexes to Matalam’s latest petition explain how multiple voting occurred: Comelec had approved the clustering of precincts before May 10. But on election day, some of the clustered precincts were unclustered, resulting in extra precincts. The voters’ lists in the original and extra precincts contained a number of similar names. In addition, the extra precincts were issued a separate election return and certificate of canvass at the municipal level. After election day, the unclustered precincts were reclustered and the election returns combined and certified by election officers.

This apparently took place not only in Maguindanao, but also elsewhere in ARMM.

In Asia’s Changing the landscape of politics in the Philippines and From the Philippines: Impunity, Apathy, and Human Rights gives an overview of warlordism and political murder in the country as a whole.
Here are some readings on conflict among warring clans in Mindanao. A whole cluster of relevant articles are linked to in PCIJ’s Putting Maguindanao in context. Similar articles are linked to in the Lede Blog of the New York Times.
In Asia has several extremely informative articles: see From the Philippines: Definitive Reference on Clan Feuding in Mindanao Published ; while From Mindanao: Clan Feud Ceasefire presents a case story of a succesful end to a vendetta (see other examples in In the Philippines: Conflict in Mindanao). And there’s Ridomap, which provides an overview on political and clan violence and provides informative maps.

There is the effect political murders have on society and public opinion. A case that comes to mind is the murder of Moises Padilla: see the 1951 and 1954 Time Magazine stories. And also, the stories of the murders of Cesar Climaco in 1984 and Evelio Javier in 1986.

See also Filipino Voices.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

65 thoughts on “Mass murder in Maguindanao

  1. If any good can come out of this horrifying incident, it would be the ultimate destruction of the Ampatuans. There are many who would oblige to annihilate them, as soon as their lifeblood of money and arms is cut off. Foremost would be their sworn and most bitter enemies, the MILF.

  2. Manolo, we shouldn’t leave this to political dynamics or even economics. This is where the people and the justice system should step front and center.

    We are one country and should have one law and perhaps even a single united sense of humanity. You’re right about the lines that these Ampatuans have crossed. I wonder if the Muslims of the world will condemn these killers. I don’t believe mainstream muslims even see these warlords as living within their solar system.

    What we really have to see is a united show of will from Filipinos in Luzon Viz and Mindanao. We want real democracy.

  3. If those suspected perpetrators are the same people who are supporters of the president, then by all means, Pres. Arroyo must distance herself from these allies, if she cares enough to preserve her tainted image as the leader of the country. She must condemn the massacre in the strongest terms and make sure that those people responsible are captured and brought to justice as soon as possible. Local governments who abuses their power and who resort to murdering political opponents must be stripped of their powers and dismantled in a time of Declared Emergency. Regardless of her previous connection with the alleged suspects, she must be dictated by her clear conscience to do the right thing to stop these insanity and obvious intoxication to stay in political power. They can not rule by guns and violence. They must be stop and be given capital punishment for multiple murder and wanton rape.

  4. @Brian_B but the people already stepped up… the women, lawyers and journalists… they’re all dead…. as for the justice system, it needs police power and if i read the article right, police power is also a suspect in the massacre

  5. Manolo, we shouldn’t leave this to political dynamics or even economics. This is where the people and the justice system should step front and center.: Brian B

    @Brian_B but the people already stepped up… the women, lawyers and journalists… they’re all dead…. as for the justice system, it needs police power and if i read the article right, police power is also a suspect in the massacre: Rygel

    So the justice system,and the police power is suspect. Such is the dynamics of our political economy.

    So forensics experts were sent and what if the investigations still lead to the same untouchables, so what now?

    Two game shows comes to mind:
    Family Feud and the Price is right.

  6. “The Ampatuan clan played a major role in the fraud that marred the 2004 elections; the fraud that allowed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo another six years in power; the fraud that many of us chose to ignore because the alternative was another outsider-actor in Malacanang.

    Maguindanao was where they tried a shutout of Fernando Poe Jr — a zero vote. Maguindanao, as the Hello Garci tapes told us, played a big, big role in ensuring Mrs. Arroyo’s continued hold in power.”

    I agree with the above. What happened in Maguindanao is a direct consequence of “Let’s Move On”.

  7. We are now the most dangerous area for journalists and we beat Iraq for that honor.

    Nothing to be proud of.

    I have been clamoring for the reduction of the 115,000 strong military and or redistribute some to the police and leave internal security to the cops and with only minimal assistance from the military.

    The generals too, we got almost 150 of them and that is from the military alone. We keep on hearing this war games and the game of the generals,this collection of stars has to stop.

    For the mean time the tenure of, a police chief or a military chief in an area must be limited because familiarity really does breed to contempt.and that suggestion is only the military and police . as for the rest of the politico economic dynamics,the overlords,how do you stop them from being untouchable?

    A president can not even touch them, for more reasons than one.

  8. Is Ampatuan an out of control lieutenant or is this a calculated move by GMA? By now, I’ve come to the conclusion that GMA will stop at nothing to perpetuate herself to power, so I couldn’t rule out this event as prelude to a bigger scheme. If this is a calculated move, I wonder what the end game would be? How will this play out?

  9. All signs point to a simple case of blowback though. But again, I will never ever underestimate the political skills of this micro-managing president.

  10. I’m not related to anyone who was killed in Mindanao, but I am consumed by hatred. I want to eradicate these killers. As far GMA, ever since Garci she’s been a treasonist to me.

  11. what we should monitor is how this very good president will handle this huge problem at hand during this time of filing of certificate of candidacy.
    will she go ahead and fulfill her selfish interests or be selfless for once and think about this country she destroyed big time…mahirap malingat nowadays.

  12. Re the Moises Padilla story, since the Ampatuan counterpart, Gov. Rafael Lacson was sentenced to die on the chair, was this actually carried out?

    Interestingly enough, there was “The Moises Padilla Story” with Joseph Estrada in it… Strange turns…

  13. The lessons of Ondoy show us that if the Filipinos want swift and decisive action to counter a crisis, they must do it themselves. It seems that the government is going with their ritual bluster and foot dragging fanfare just like what they did with the Marines-beheading incident that things will soon go nowhere. Right now I am in a state of unspeakable rage that I am all for a rido by the Mangudadatus. Wouldn’t it give you total satisfaction to see the bullet-ridden corpses of the Ampatuans being dug out of a mass grave?

  14. Uriel, in a sense I’m amazed the reprisals haven’t started. There must be many people from all walks of life and perhaps many different governments trying to hold the peace. On one hand, the Ampatuans crossed a line that puts them beyond the pale, so that no Muslim society would tolerate them here or abroad; potentially, offering up a unifying cause for all other armed Moro groups.

    However, were the police or military to be unleashed on the Ampatuans you might just complicate the situation and force Moros to unite against the authorities: but if the military and police are perceived to be held back in order for the national government to coddle the Ampatuans, it will cause unrest and dissent within the military though perhaps not the police: which, if allowed to fester, would present the government with a problem. If the situation escalates and the government needs to expand the state of emergency or impose emergency rule, you’d need the armed forces, but what happens if the armed forces considers the national government no different from the Ampatuans?

    And while the ruling coalition can expel the Ampatuans, that symbolic step is different from actually going after them: there are other aggressive members of the coalition to whom the Ampatuans could appeal or cash in their chips. And at the end of it, there’s the practical dilemma that expelling Ampatuan helps promote the fiction that Gibo is the new face of PaLaKa but just with this symbolic act, at the cost of 600,000 sure votes for Gibo.

    If the Ampatuans surrender to the authorities, they will only do so if they will be assured of being let off the hook: otherwise, since murder is a non-bailable offense, they’d go to jail to be detained for the duration of their trial -a security nightmare regardless of which jail they end up in. And if a vendetta ensues, it has the distinct possibility of spilling over to other places like Davao.

    So the Ampatuans practiced brinkmanship, and are still doing so.

  15. I was also in the same line of thinking that the Ampatuans have selected the best time (by calculation or by providence) to carry out this what will soon become a perfect crime. The odds are really in their favor.

    A direct police action will not be in the works as, like what you have said, it will create a power vacuum in Maguindanao that will destroy networks that have proven to be benificial politically, financially and security-wise to the military and the national government.

    You also have a lame duck President who will be gone in six months and who is preoccupied in devising an exit strategy.

    The left and the MILF? This incident is a great recruitment tool for the MILF and the NPA in the area. They can turn a living and breathing Ampatuan into a propaganda tool to swell in support for their ranks. Besides, they might as well sit in the sidelines and share in the spoils if ever the Ampatuan buffer gets demolished.

    This leaves the Manngundadatus, which right now I believe is severely outgunned and outgooned by the Ampatuans. So what to do? Mass support? Piso for a rido?

  16. James, Stalin said that it is the one who counts the vote matter. The Comelec admitted that the Ampatuans are so terrible that even the vote-counting machines tremble in fear.

  17. “So the Ampatuans practiced brinkmanship, and are still doing so.”

    This is B.S.

    “However, were the police or military to be unleashed on the Ampatuans you might just complicate the situation and force Moros to unite against the authorities:”

    The Muslim demographics that the ampatuans represent are respectful of government. That’s why ampatuan (a Gloria favorite and close ally) is king to them. Will the MILF protect these murderers after what they’ve done? I don’t think so. The military going after them, believe me, is the least bloody alternative. It’s not all logic of the gun. There’s real horror here.

  18. “there are other aggressive members of the coalition to whom the Ampatuans could appeal or cash in their chips.”

    Or the NP. If Villar can accommodate the Marcoses, then it will be way easier for him to give a carte blanche to Ampatuan.

    However, all of these horse trading for dead bodies is just way too surreal and totally abominable for me. Realpolitik may be way too sanitized if read in the books or discussed in the classroom but what we are talking about here are abominations on the levels of Mengele and the Khmer Rouge

    The picture of Dureza and the Ampatuans having a cordial meeting in front of cakes and refreshments the day after the massacre is just way too cruel and a slap on the face of fair-minded Filipinos.

    Those Ampatuan bastards should not even be in handcuffs but should be in holding manifolds that were used by Hannibal Lecter.

  19. Thanks Dodong, but I think also the parallel story here is the murder of Moises Padilla in 1951.,9171,820089,00.html

    Thank you very much, Manolo. I just learned of the state self-inflicted tragedy (of political warlord and his private army) in a different era from you. President Elpidio Quirino coddled the abuses of Negros Province Gov Lacson for his vote delivery from the second most populous province.

    The same recipe for State tragedy in Gov Ampatuan handing the ARMM region to Gloria Arroyo’s presidency (Garci tape) and Gloria’s executive order legalizing the governor’s private army funded by pork barrel led to the current tragedy.

    Despite the national attention, the case dragged for 3 years under the cozy relationship of President Quirino with the Gov Lacson, if not for the tenacity of purpose by one man Ramon Magsaysay who was emotionally affected and said “When I carried the body of Moises Padilla in my arms, it was not the body of Padilla but the body of the humble people of my country.”

    Gov Lacson’s classmate, Judge Enriquez handed the guilty verdict and death sentence by electric chair to the Governor, three Mayors, three Police Chiefs and 15 other defendants.

    As coddlers, President Arroyo is not different from Quirino. President Arroyo sent special envoy Jesus Dureza to Gov Ampatuan first instead of sending the authorities to arrest his sons right away based on direct ID account by Mangudadatu’s murdered wife.

    During Ramon Magsaysay’s time, one Moises Padilla brought to justice 1 Governor, 3 Mayors and 3 Police Chiefs among the 22 defendants.

    It would be a terrible failure of justice, if the mass murder (some were raped and mutilated) of women (including those pregnant) and other victims up to 57 as of the latest tally, could not bring the Ampatuan clan and its private army to account for the crime.

  20. Going back to what Manolo have said about bringing Ampatuan to justice is a delicate (yet sordid) affair puts forth the same dilemma Obama has against the wall street executives. Ampatuan is just too big to fail.

    Where does this leaves us Manolo? How can we live in a society where the perceived peace can’t give us the security in exercising the most basic of freedoms–the right to vote, the right to legal counsel, the right of free speech?

    Our generation(Filipino X-ers and millenials) is just saturated with memories of summary executions and unmarked graves. We are no better than our fathers whom we raged against because of their failures.

  21. Finger pointing will never help. A swift, transparent, thorough investigation led by independent Forensics experts(CSI) must be called in to handle these horrible crime. Sitting in front of your computer and blaming a family for the crime will not help at all. There must be eyewitnesses to these cold-blooded killings in broad daylight.

    First thing first, eyewitnesses must be given full protection under the Witness Protection Program. These people and their loved ones must be taken to a safe and secured place so they could help the State build up its’ case. Their identity must be kept secret.

    Number two, the suspects must be rounded up and interrogated and their rights must be ensured under the Constitution.

    Number three, the media must play a great part in the process by aggressively reporting the developments and keeping the irate citizens abreast. It will be extremely hard during a time when one of your Journalist friend was among the victims. But the reporting must remain completely dispassionate and unbiased.

    Finally, everyone must remain calm and vigilant. No one should resort to more violence or incite revolt. The Philippines is being tested if it will be a model of peace and a paragon of civilized people at a trying time of this blood curdling tragedy. Let justice takes its’ course.

    My deepest condolence to the families of the victims in their great loss. May you find solace and comfort knowing that God is with you. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

  22. Scary huh to finally realize that we have absolute rulers in control of certain sections of the country.

    We are naturally appalled by this massacre but for the men in power it is perfectly normal for them to implement this monstrous show of force to keep their subjects in line.

    The clan wars in the Ilocos region come to mind.

    We need a pragmatic Marcos tempered by the soft hand of a Cory to manage this country. Unleashing the iron hand when justified but unwrapping the iron hand when a semblance of justice is restored.

    I think the majority of people in this country are waiting for such a leader to appear. It is no longer the economy but a loss of justice that must be restored for us to get back to building this country.

    Retributive justice should be the main platform. Everything will fall in place along this main platform.

    Noynoy appears to be too soft. GMA should be congratulated for her incompetency and for loving herself too much for bringing us to this point.

    Power hates a void. Who amongst the bunch will fill it?

  23. We just love to talk…we dont walk the talk…give it some time and this maguinadanao affair will be blown away as if ‘ala lang’..we’ll be back, all you talkers out there, to your basic love – POLITIKS…pinoys love it…I am really hoping for a military takeover….Magdalos where are you boys?

  24. Re Moises Padilla again, so the mastermind was able to weasel out of a death sentence into a life sentence in the mid 60s, then got his pardon in the 70s? That’s why Rafael Lacson was able to have a school named after him in Negros.

    Apparently, our national amnesia isn’t limited to this generation…

  25. The national amnesia of this generation…. inherited from the manners of the elder generations.

  26. An excellent piece, Manolo.

    I would just dissent with one minor thing: this act of desperation on the part of the perpetrators shows how that local warlords are still dependent on whoever runs the central government in Manila for staying in power. Otherwise, I agree fully with your assessment.

    Seeing the writing on the wall (for the administration), they have decided to “go rogue” with this act. It will be difficult under the circumstance to prove their guilt (which is what they are banking on), and the state of emergency imposed might not be effective as you point out.

  27. The political mood is changing to one of retribution. The obvious beneficiary of this shift may be Teodoro.

    Can he junk Lakas and GMA and move to establish his own political base using this to build a consensual coalition wrapped around effective law and order?

    He has the standing in the military. If he plays his cards right he could leave everyone in the dust.

    The issue of economics will play second fiddle from now on to the reestablishment of effective state power. People will want to see the iron hand of the state unleashed. GMA’s appointment of a useless task force to deflect her responsibilities will not work this time.

    Dubai has just declared a debt moratorium (Major Dubai GOCC) and the international markets are in a serious state of flux. We have the OFW’s giving the government the necessary room to maneuver.

    Quickly reestablish law and order otherwise the elections will be really messy where everything little dispute could blow up.

  28. The Maguindanao mass-murder is asking for a Gibo that is serious about more professionalism in Pilipinas military and police. If you think about it, there should be at least one general needed(maybe even 3 generals needed) plus the colonels and captains and majors to manage those paramilitary’s. A professional soldier can only be contemptuous of the arrangement where some people wearing the same uniform they wear have dual allegiances — technically to the AFP chain-of-command, but also to Ampatuan and the other warlords or semi-warlords of Mindanao. The problem, of course, is that in order to put all men in uniform into a single chain of command, those people have to be paid by the central government. The problem is that it will take higher taxes to pay the salaries to make for a more professional Pinas military, taxes that no one is willing to pay. People do not want any new taxes, VAT or otherwise.

  29. Gibo is handling it quite well, but the nagging question is his stint in DND never brought up the issue nor did the Ampatuans pose a problem before when they were playing a prominent role in the party that made him its candidate.

  30. The problem is that it will take higher taxes to pay the salaries to make for a more professional Pinas military, taxes that no one is willing to pay. People do not want any new taxes, VAT or otherwise.

    True, but they just receive a round of salary increases, this also means the retirees pensions will also increase.
    115000 active and about 97 thou retired including the vets.
    Eventually we will run out of money just paying them 50 to 70 billion pesos a year.That is almost equal (or greater than)to the budget of the dnd.
    (hiniwalay ang portion ng pension para di halatang malaki).
    ( Even our whole national budget has the same story(amount alloted to personnel services)).

    More generals in the danger zones? The only upside of that is less armchair generals and less golfing generals.UPN, The bulk of our military personnel and equipment(or the lack of it) are already in mindanao,ok send in the generals.

  31. from the philippine daily inquirer

    Acting Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera told reporters Wednesday after a visit to the troubled region that state lawyers and prosecutors were still gathering evidence.

    “I ask for more time to evaluate (the evidence),” she said. “So far there’s no evidence of rape. There was also no beheading.”

    Gonzalez said that the Maguindanao provincial government-owned backhoe found in the crime scene was a “circumstantial evidence” against the Ampatuans.

    “But you can’t convict somebody with one circumstantial evidence,” said the former justice secretary.

    But Dureza said he did not ask if indeed Mayor Ampatuan led the killers. “I went there to tell them about the creation of the crisis management committee, and about the investigation,” he said.

  32. Government is creating a committee of monkeys to address the issue. And you know what will come out of that committee.

    They should do a cleansing. Burn the f***ers!

    A 100 men to do the dirty work, some of which are law enforcers! Jesus Christ!







  34. Karl: The delay in arrests is probably because GMA and generals had to know who of their people in uniform were reliable, and also to get more government soldiers in place. Kung one-to-one ratio lang, barilan is likely since Ampatuan leaders will be inclined to resist. To surrender when patas is hindi macho.

    Dapat ay 4-to-1 or even 10-to-1, ten Goverment-troops in place for every single Ampatuan bodyguard, para malinaw who has the upper hand.

  35. The murder in Maguindanao was a clear consequence when central authority has either losses its power or has weakened. Warlords will compete for power through violence or intimidation. He will continue to seek popular allegiance on the basis of the fear and insecurity generated by the absence of reliable central authorities. The Ampatuan’s clan can therefore act independently if not put to jail. He can change party at any given time to benefit only his own. He cannot be loyal but will play the game of big business. He is also not interested to fix the bigger problem of a weak State but will instead take advantage of it. There’s not much difference between elitism and warlordism except intense violence. Both are burden to our nation’s health.

  36. Wala na akong masabi UPN.
    You got all the answers.
    You know very much that we don’t have the money for more soldiers yet you even suggest a ten to 1 ratio for this case alone, and we know election violence is not only in Mindanao.
    Do you suggest a ten to 1 ratio per private army estimate of every politico or clans who have the tendencies for election violence? Ok tell the active duty members of the private armies to go back to barracks for that to happen.

  37. I am deeply shaken to the core after reading the article written by Child of Earth re: Maguindanao Massacre. I can’t fathom the most cruel and merciless killing and mutilation the perpetrators did to his wife and 2 sisters. I am so upset.

    The horror inflicted upon these innocent, unarmed people.
    All because they don’t want the candidate to file his Certificate of Candidacy. So inhumane and barbaric. Hope they burn in hell for all eternity. Pls. go arrest them all and put them all in electric chairs while the whole world watches.

    Now, it really hit the very core of my being. I can’t begin to imagine what they did to the females and their woman private parts. All done in broad daylight by the roadside. So despicable. The pain and severity of human indignation inflicted upon the victims. Pres.Gloria Arroyo must read that article. She is a woman, she knows what it is they did to the female reproductive organ.

  38. Just when we started feeling good about ourselves, with Pacquiao and Efren Peñaflorida bringing pride to our country, we are rudely brought back to earth.

    The barbarity and brutality of this makes jaws drop the world over. Mayhem and carnage may be common in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. But in sheer viciousness, this pushes us over the top.

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