“They Own the People”: The Ampatuans, State-Backed Militias, and KIllings in the Southern Philippines [A Human Rights Watch Report]
November 17, 2010 Leave a comment
Who will ever forget the 23rd of November 2009.
On this day, the convoy that will file the certificate of candidacy of then Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, which includes his wife, his sister, some lawyers, and members of the press, majorly women, were massacred in the town of Ampatuan allegedly by the militia of then Maguindanao Governor Andal S. Ampatuan, Sr. led by his son, Datu Unsay Mayor and then gubernatorial candidate Andal Ampatuan, Jr.
Not only was this the most brutal way of exacting political retribution; it was also the largest killing of media personalities. Passersby who went with the convoy on its way to Cotabato City were not spared in the violence.
Almost a year after, after the sobbing of the relatives of those who were killed in the massacre, Mangudadatu is now the Governor of Maguindanao, and the Ampatuans are now in police custody awaiting verdict of Quezon City judge Solis-Reyes.
Just recently, the Human Rights Watch released its publication regarding the Maguindanao Massacre. It contained a history of Maguindanao, how the Ampatuans rose to power, and the reported killings of several individuals by Ampatuan militiamen. It encouraged the Aquino administration and the international community to work together in curbing out militias.
With the Maguindanao Massacre’s anniversary nearing, let us all encourage our President to exert serious efforts in demilitarizing political clans and families in the Philippines.