Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cold blooded massacre : Journalists targeted in the Philippines

Massacre of a political clan that included several
journalists in the outskirts of Ampatuan, Maguindanao
in southern Philippines (photo agencies)

South Philippines : state of emergency!

Certainly one of the worst day for the profession of
journalists. Philippine authorities will resume the
search Wednesday for more victims of a massacre that
left at least 46 people dead, amid fears the death toll
could top 50, Philippines military said.

Here are the quotes of various media reports :

"The mass killings of aides and relatives of a local
politician in the southern Philippines, as well as
journalists accompanying them, occurred on Monday in
remote farming area on the volatile southern island of

Military spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Ponce.
"The search will continue in the general area today".

The journalists were accompanying a local political
family, the Mangudadatus, on their way to file
candidacy papers for gubernatorial elections on the
island of Mindanao. After a vicious hold up 46 people
in the traveling group were massacred, in what has now
emerged as political clan warfare.

The murderers are hiding in plain sight. Members of
the Ampatuan clan, political allies of President Gloria
Macapagal Arroyo, were seen and readily identified as
being in the gang that hijacked the Mangudadatus
convoy. The son of the governor was in the attack
gang, as was the local mayor. Pushing aside her
allegiance to the Ampatuan clan, President Arroyo has
ordered the "immediate, relentless pursuit" of the

Arroyo ally top suspect in massacre—police according to
Agence France-Presse as Police on Wednesday named a
political ally of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as
the prime suspect in an election-linked massacre of at
least 46 people. "According to the initial reports,
those who were abducted and murdered at Saniag were
initially stopped by a group led by the mayor of Datu
Unsay," national police spokesman Chief Superintendent
Leonardo Espina said. The mayor of Datu Unsay is Andal
Ampatuan Jr., a member of Arroyo's ruling
Lakas-Kampi-Christian Muslim Democrats coalition and
son of an extremely powerful regional politician who
has ensured local support for the president in previous
elections." (end of quotes, agencies, blogs, web)

And this dispatch :

Vendetta Linked to Election

"The murders in the southern province of Maguindanao on
Monday are thought to have beeny related to next year's
national elections, when posts from village chiefs to
the president will be up for grabs. 'This explosion of
violence arises whenever there is an election,' said
Samira Gutoc, one of the convenors of the Young Moro
Professionals, a group helping the government in peace
talks with armed Muslim groups in the south.

Indeed, dozens of people are killed each election
season in this impoverished and often lawless south
east Asian nation. Local political warlords have for
generations competed for political power and the
accompanying business riches that government posts
offer. These clans control private armies, which carry
out assassinations and attacks on rivals. The
proliferation of over 1.1 million unlicensed firearms,
most of them in the hands of rebel groups or
paramilitaries, contribute to the general lawlessness
in many remote areas, according to police. The
Telegraph (24 November)"

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