By CHERYLL D. FIEL
DAVAO CITY — Election violence erupted this early right in the heart of Maguindanao, a province long wrought by political killings.
Forty persons, including lawyers and journalists on their way to Maguindanao’s capital town of Shariff Aguak, were reportedly taken by armed men at around 9:30 am on Monday, November 23.
Combined military and police search team recovered 21 bodies in Barangay Salman, Ampatuan town later in the afternoon, according to Colonel Jonathan Ponce, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson.
Ponce said the bodies were believed to be part of the convoy led by Genalyn Mangudadatu, on her way to Shariff Aguak town to file the certificate of candidacy of her husband, Buluan town Vice Mayor Ismael Mangudadatu.
The Buluan vice mayor is running for governor in Maguindanao, a post currently held by incumbent governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr. a close ally of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Maguindanao, one of the provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, is about 160 kilometers from this city.
Ponce, however, said the bodies have not yet been positively identified. He also believed there could still be more.
Buluan Mayor Ibrahim “Jong” Mangudadatu, brother of the Buluan vice mayor, earlier told the media that among those killed were his relatives, two women lawyers and some media persons. The Buluan mayor earlier went on air over a Cotabato City station to report that six members of the party led by his wife, Genalyn, had been beheaded.
Among the persons initially identified in media reports as missing are Genalyn Tiamzon-Mangudadatu, wife of Buluan vice-mayor, Bai Eden Mangudadatu, vice mayor of Mangudadatu town and sister of the Buluan vice mayor and Lawyers Connie Brizuela and Cynthia Oquindo. NUJP confirmed 12 of their colleagues to have died but did not yet identify the names.
Reports from the NUJP local chapters in Mindanao named the journalists abducted to include a certain Ian Subang, president of a broadcasters’ association in General Santos City; Leah Dalmacio, Gina dela Cruz from General Santos City; Marites Cabutas, print reporter from General Santos City; Bart Maravilla, Bombo Radyo Koronadal chief reporter; Joy Duhay; Henry Araneta of DZRH Cotabato; Andy Teodoro, publisher of a local paper based in Tacurong, Sultan Kudarat; Bong Reblando, reporter of Manila Bulletin; Mac-Mac Areola, Jimmy Cabillo and Neneng Montano of radio station DXCP.
“There are still persons who have not been identified, so we are not sure yet if this is the complete list of journalists abducted and beheaded,” the NUJP said.
The Mangudadatus are also a powerful political family in Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao provinces while the Ampatuans have closely been identified with Arroyo.
Governor Datu Zaldy Ampatuan of ARMM has recently been appointed as regional chairman of Arroyo’s newly-merged Lakas-Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino-Christian Muslim Democrat (Lakas-Kampi-CMD) political party. He is the son of Andal Ampatuan, the Maguindanao governor.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the abduction and killing, calling it “a brazen challenge” to efforts in strengthening the country’s fragile democracy.
“Running for office and voting are as much exercises of free will and expression as covering and reporting the news,” the NUJP statement said.
NUJP’s statement said the military confirmed the involvement of a mayor and a police officer in the abduction.
“The Ampatuan massacre goes beyond the issue of freedom of the press and of expression and strikes at the very foundations of democracy,” the NUJP statement said. “This incident not only erases all doubts about the Philippines being the most dangerous country for journalists in the world, outside of Iraq, it could very well place the country on the map as a candidate for a failed democracy.”
Buluan mayor Mangudadatu confirmed in a radio interview with the Notre Dame Broadcasting Corporation that 12 journalists were killed. He also said that six of those abducted were beheaded.
“If it is true that a local government official and a police officer are involved, then it says a lot about how far government has gone to eradicate the warlord politics that continues to reign over many of our provinces,” the NUJP statement said.
The media group called the hostaging of journalists an “assault to the Constitution” and demanded swift action from the government to resolve the crisis.
“We expect nothing less from this government than the swift apprehension and punishment of everyone involved in this gruesome assault on the national body politic, including the masterminds, regardless of who they might be,” the statement said.
“Anything less would mean that the impunity that has emboldened those who would silence the press has spread to embolden those who would subvert our democracy for their own selfish interests.”
The NUJP demands that the abductors release the hostages, including the journalists, unconditionally.
“Should any harm befall our colleagues, we will hold accountable the civil and security officials of Maguindanao, the ARMM and the national government for their failure to end the culture of violence and warlordism,” the NUJP said. (Cheryll D. Fiel, davaotoday.com)
MAGUINDANAO MASSACRE – JUSTICE MUST PREVAIL !!!!
Looking back to what had happened , it’s really TRAUMATIC to each and everyone of us,when PEOPLE WITHOUT CONSCIENCE can do such a GRUESOME/BARBARIC CRIME.As a woman myself, what they have done to the women-victims were INJUSTICE BEYOND WORDS.They all died because of people that have been so GREEDY WITH POWER .Whoever have orchestrated and have done this MUST PAY TO THEIR LAST DROP OF BLOOD.There must be more buried in their area ,if it wasn’t a blown up news- they’ll belonged to people that have been buried to unknown locations and the bereaved families that have lost their kins,friends will forever never see even their very bones.JUSTICE MUST PREVAIL,no one is excused for committing such a crime that shocked the whole world.It’s sad because not all people here in Mindanao are as HEARTLESS as those that have done it.We are PEACE LOVING AND HARDWORKING PEOPLE that just want to live in a PEACEFUL/CRIME-FREE ENVIRONMENT.Due to this ,our Mindanao will be SCARRED FOR LIFE and some people now thought that it’s unsafe to go here.
I have lived here for 41 years,my grandfather have never left our place – even died here ,because for him he had found the LAND OF PROMISE .He has chosen to live here with his family because he was charmed by the place,he served as the 1st Vice Mayor of a city here and he’ll always tell us that wherever we go we’ll always go back here in Mindanao.He has befriended Muslim clans because he got a farm planted with palm oil somewhere in Sultan Kudarat.There were tough times during his early years staying on that area but what had happened in Maguindanao was perhaps the worst in the history for it involved innocent people /hardworking people/women that were killed for a WHIM.
Everyone here wants JUSTICE for what they have caused us all.We all fear for our lives if these people can’t be all caught .They must pay for the crimes they have committed.
I do hope that there’ll be more evidences leading to the downfall of the people behind this UNFORGIVABLE CRIME OF A LIFETIME.
Praying for the bereaved families that they must find ways in accepting what had happened to their loved ones,for us living here in Mindanao,that we’ll be protected from abusive /heartless people that terrorizes our peaceful lives.
We must be vigilant at all times,because we never know what happens next.
Thanking people that have done their very best/worked hard to come out with an analysis that can be very vital/useful to unveil the REAL TRUTH behind this RUTHLESS CRIME.
kung pagsasamasamahin ang mga dinukot at pinapatay ng rehimeng gma.., pari,pastor,mamamahayag,abogado,dr,enhinyero, istudyante-kabataan,kababaihan,katutubo maging mga aktibista.siguradong mas marami pa sa bilang at laki ng saklaw ang dinulot na teror ng militar at pulis kasama ang bak-up nilang politiko at naghaharing angkan..
tampok lang ang partikularidad na sa iisang lugar ang pangyayari naganap..
ang suma.walang gulugod si gma para solusyonan ang ganitong mga kaso.luzon visayas at mindanao laganap ang karahasan.puta-putaki subalit konsentrado.pinipili at organisado ang paraan..pwedeng ihalintulad sa ampatuan masaker…, pero kung titimbangin higit pa ang lalim at kabuluhan dito.
Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo,
How come the investigation on Mindanao massacre is so super slow? The suspects are very known already! Please, at the last act of your term do atleast one good thing for your country. Are you going to wait for Christmas?
If your father is still alive today. He will be most likely very sad and very embarrased the way you handle your ill gotten presidency.
How can you sleep everynight?
There is nothing GMA could do to show she could be worthy of being called President. The best she can do now is show she has a right to be called human.
ano nalang ang manngyayari sa mga susunod pang panahon kung ngayon palang nakikita nanatin ang mga maari at pwede pang mangyari sa ating bansa.
ganito nalang ba ang magiging senaryo tuwing eleksyon?
Malacanang distances itself from Maguindanao mass murder saying it was just "an incident between two families in Mindanao".
"We cannot be affected by that…This has nothing to do with President Macapagal-Arroyo or the administration," Malacanang mouthpiece Lorelie Fajardo says.
@*%&* Mga hinayupak kayo! Incident between two families, my ass! What about those journalists just doing their job and ordinary civilians who were very unfortunate to be at the wrong place at the wrong time?
Malacanang's doing a Pontius Pilate of seeing no evil and hearing no evil indicates that the Palace will disassociate itself from seeking justice for the victims too.
All indications point to this gruesome reality: WARLORDS CAN GET AWAY WITH MASS MURDER especially if they are Malacanang henchmen who have done their part in keeping the administration in power.
Truly very scary~! Lets hope and pray that it will never happen to the family of the President. Who is as thirsty of Power like the Ampatuans! People in Maguindanao should be awaken and never be shaken to the threats of this EVIL people! If you dont do anything about the problem in your Town. Then you and your generation will suffer for the rest of your LIVES! As you tolerate such doing without taking some actions! GUMISING NA KAYO! And pray harder! Turn yourselves into God!
My heart goes out to those killed. We are all affected by this tragedy. May justice prevail.
First and foremost, I have no qualms about Islam but to all those barbarians — if they are indeed the same species as us — who did this atrocity, here's something for you to chew on:
A senseless act of violence just for a CoC application? And you consider yourselves rightful members of the lineage of Mohammed? Is this what Islam all about? Raping, murdering and raising terror? How about waiting for the 99 virgins when you die?
This is scary, what now Mrs. President? Do you think this is just a simple case of political rivalry? this is BARBARIC, civilians and women are involved, no mercy killing for these helpless people, and then what, just a simple condemnation, until the case will be buried again? I hope you'll find in your heart to be the true leader of this country, please please, once and for all, before your term ends, be brave enough, enough to show us Filipinos that you are worthy to be called President of this country.