The politically-motivated killings that happened in Maguindanao yesterday is truly deplorable. We only used to read about such brutality. We condemned mass killings but we were detached and grateful that we aren’t the ones experiencing it. However, it is now in our turf and cannot be denied. The massacre is an eye-opener in how bad the situation is in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) region and the realities of political clans and warlords.
Based on the most recent reports, a group composed of unarmed media people and women were on their way to the COMELEC to file for Esmael Mangudadatu’s Certificate of Candidacy when a hundred or so heavily-armed men abducted them. Later that day, not less than thirty brutally murdered bodies of those belonging to the group were discovered, including the wife of Esmael Mangudadatu. Some were raped, some were beheaded, some were hastily buried in a mass grave, and some are still unaccounted for. It is alleged that the armed men are under the employ of Maguindanao Governer Andal Ampatuan and that the Mangandadatu is his political rival. There is no solid evidence yet to implicate Ampatuan but the fact that he cannot be found and that he did not do anything after the crime hit the news are suspect.
After reading and watching news about the incident, I am left with some questions.
- Why does Esmael Mangandadatu appear emotionless after all that has happened?
- Will the government punish the Ampatuans even if they are party-mates and that they played a big role in securing the Maguindanao votes in the past presidential election?
- How will the COMELEC ensure that there will be an election there?
- How will the government protect the citizens of Maguindanao?
- Who will attempt to run against known warlords or political plans?
The atrocious crime is not just an act against a rival clan. The extent of the gruesomeness is an act against women, journalists, the political system, democracy and Filipinos. Whoever is behind it deserves a punishment worse than death.