MPW CONDEMNS BARBARIC KILLINGS IN MAGUINDANAO
We have never seen this kind of barbarism in our age and time. Not even in the war fields of Iraq and Afghanistan, has this kind of brazen, brutal and blatant act of impunity happen. More so in an avowed democratic country we call the Republic of the Philippines.
The Mindanao Peace Weavers (MPW), the broadest network of peace constituency in Mindanao strongly condemns the horrendous killings of unarmed, helpless women and other civilians in Maguindanao yesterday. We eventually hold the national government accountable for the deaths of 40 gentle and peaceful civilians, including members of the media around high noon in a highway in Maguindanao.
The civilians in Mindanao badly need respite not only from the tug of war between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the government armed forces but also from political clans and their private armies which continue to wreak havoc in the island.
The MPW calls on the government to uphold the constitutional provisions which bans private armed groups. On July 2006, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued Executive Order 546, which allows local officials and the PNP to deputize barangay tanods as ‘force multipliers’ in the fight against insurgents. The EO allowed local officials to convert their private armed group into legal entities as civilian volunteer organizations (CVO’s).
Forty-four persons – including a politician about to file her and her brother’s certificates of candidacy (COCs), as well as journalists covering the event – were confirmed killed when heavily armed men allegedly identified with the Ampatuan political clan were waylaid on its way to the local Commission on Elections (Comelec) office in Maguindanao.
Supporters of Buluan Vice Mayor Toto Mangudadatu and Mangudadatu Vice Mayor Eden Mangudadatu and their companions were on their way to the Comelec office to file COCs at around 10:30 a.m. when they were blocked at a checkpoint manned by some 100 Maguindanao police personnel and armed civilian volunteers allegedly led by Datu Unsay town mayor Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr. and the Provincial Police Inspector.
We call on government to immediately arrest those responsible for the senseless deaths of civilians and take concrete and decisive action to bring the perpetrators to justice. It is high time for government to stop the arrogance, impunity and hubris of the people behind the killing. It is also time to do the same with their handlers be they cowering behind official government logos and titles.
We join the families of those who were killed in their unfathomable grief today. But we also call for sobriety. We ask the government and other groups in Mindanao to uphold the rule of law. We are heartened that the victims families are allowing the law and the wheels of justice to take its course.
May this atrocity serve to guide and strengthen us in our peace work. We also remain vigilant in the effort to further muddle the peace situation in Mindanao and spawn unregulated military control in the area.
MPW will continue engaging with local government units, local communities and with women and youth in the long road to peace. With the drafting of the Mindanao Peoples Peace Agenda (MPPA),MPW seeks to bring together peoples in a dialogue for a mutual and lasting peace in Mindanao.
Maguindanao will never be the same again after yesterday’s massacre. Mindanao will never be the same again. The country will never be the same again. There is no recourse for us but to collectively work to end this nightmare. (30)