On Bonifacio Day:

Bayan, Media, Lawyers groups hold indignation and candlelighting rally at Mendiola


Video clips


November 30, 2009





Breaking News
by Katrina Macapagal*

after we celebrated
the boxer who nabbed
another world title,
we gaped at his wife
who sobbed in church,
and swapped stories
about the other woman.
Seems like the slaughter
in the twelfth round
spilled outside
the boxing ring,
to the delight of
our new intellectuals
(a boy and the daughter
of the dead matriarch),
who ran out of opinions
when the flood
of philantrophic acts
subsided. Nobody
had forseen
that the frenzy
would be
by faint gunfire
and cries from
fifty-seven dead,
buried somewhere
far from sight.
After all, we imagined,
a tragedy isn't a tragedy
if it doesn't happen
on TV.

And so we heard
about the massacre
that occured in a place
where Progress is a forgotten word,
where victory
belongs to the lord who owns more
gold and bullets
than the lord next-door.
The killing spree was quiet
and swift, muffled
by the bloodied soil
turned into a secret grave
for men and women
who were just passing through,
and who never thought
that doing what they had to do
was a crime punishable by death.
He who uttered
the order to shoot knew
that this, too, shall be ignored--
this was but a fair exchange
for a job well done
a few years past, when he made sure
that all ballots bore
the president's name.
When he visited the palace
of his queen, she shook
his hand to seal the deal.

What of good news? Just when some
have boldly proclaimed
that where we come from
everyone's a hero (says ABS, GMA,
and of course, CNN),
we find ourselves
stunned that such savagery
still exists
in this day and age. Perhaps
we always knew,
we just failed to imagine
that the worst tragedies
are those that strike
after momentary victories.
On TV, we watch an
all-too-familiar spiel:
I am sorry, all will be well. But
we know enough
to see what the camera doesn't show--
trembling hands smeared
with the blood of the dead.



* Ms. Katrina Macapagal is an instructor at UP Diliman



Media groups to GMA: swift justice or resign

Media groups and journalists call for the resignation of Gloria Arroyo if her government fails to the catch the perpetrators of the Maguindanao massacre and make them accountable for the crime.

Statement of the Nov. 23 Movement

A Challenge of Conscience

The brutal, indiscriminate mass murder on Monday in Ampatuan town, in Maguindanao province, raises the ultimate challenge of conscience. It carries the culture of impunity at work in this country to such levels of horror that, if it remains unpunished for long, can send the nation into an inexorable descent into absolute dehumanization.

The crime thus calls for swift justice, which can only be achieved through a credible and independent process, which in turn can only be achieved without the hand of this government – a government justly mistrusted generally and openly friendly precisely to the very members of the clan accused in the massacre.

We, ourselves colleagues of the more than a score journalists who were killed, demand the following:

One, the creation of a commission outside the government to investigate the crime;

Two, the arrest and prosecution of all the people involved in it in any way, as murderers themselves or their protectors;

Three, the formation of a special court to try the case;

Four, fully guaranteed protection for the witnesses;

Five, the disarming and dismantling of all private armies, such as those evidently employed in the massacre.

Six, the enlistment of persons of unquestioned probity in the whole process;

And finally, the resignation of the government if it fails to deliver such basic satisfaction – indeed, the very same government that has encouraged, by partisanship and conspiracy, the culture of impunity of which the massacre has been the most abominable manifestation.


Business World
Center for Community Journalism and Development (CCJD)
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR)
College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP)
Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ)
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)
Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI)
Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project (PHRRP)
Philippine Press Institute (PPI)

(The Nov. 23 Movement was formed last Nov. 28 to seek justice to the victims of the Maguindanao massacre. It is composed of media organizations, newspaper publishers, and journalists. For more information, please contact the secretariat: Rorie Fajardo of PHRRP (0905) 3154986 and roriegirl@yahoo.com; Sonny Fernandez (0908) 3259620 and freetosay@gmail.com; Trina Federis of CEGP, (0910) 4803098 and cegphils@gmail.com; and Sweet Cawicaan of CCJD 376-5550)




ILOILO, November 30, 2009

Lawyers' group tells DOJ: act swiftly

The Visayas chapters of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) urged the Department of Justice (DO) to speed up its investigation and prosecute the masterminds and perpetrators of the massacre of over 60 persons in Maguindanao province a week ago.

“Seven days from the mass killing of innocent civilians, law enforcers are still tiptoing despite overwhelming pieces of evidence pointing to the masterminds and perpetrators,” bewailed Atty. Joshua Alim, chair of the Panay chapter of NUPL.

The NUPL issued the statement as four of its chapters in the Visayas convened here November 28-29 for case conferences and workshop on human rights cases and on the Writ of Amparo. The two-day conference had as keynote speaker Rep. Neri Colmenares (Bayan Muna Party List), NUPL national secretary general.

The participants came from Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas, Panay and Negros islands.

“We are very concerned with the pace with which investigators are moving,” noted Colmenares. “If law enforcers are too quick in collaring suspected pickpockets, even beat them up before charging them, why in this instance, seven days from the fact, have they not arrested the members of the Ampatuan private army and militiamen? Why are they not investigating the other Ampatuans?”

One of the key suspects, Andal Ampatuan Jr., mayor of Buluan, Maguindanao is now in government custody but he was not arrested. He voluntarily turned himself over to authorities.

The main suspects in the carnage are members of the powerful Ampatuan clan who are allies of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. They delivered huge votes in 2004 and 2007 elections to the president and all in her senatorial slate.

Some 100 armed men abducted a convoy of supporters of Maguindanao gubernatorial candidate Eshmael “Toto” Mangudadatu November 23 at Ampatuan, Maguindanao and murdered them at Brgy. Salman, same town.

Authorities recovered 57 bodies from the scene, some sprawled on the ground, others buried in scattered graves dug by a back hoe owned by the provincial government of Maguindanao. The fatalities are all innocent civilians, mostly women. The perpetrators buried the vehicles of their victims and torched others.

“While we mourn with the loved ones of the victims, we want to stress that this bloodbath is an assault against press freedom and the right of the people to know,” said Colmenares. “The killing of two lawyers is an attack against the exercise of the legal profession.”

Twenty seven of the victims are journalists and two others lawyers, both belonging to the Union of People's Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM), member organization of the NUPL. This is the biggest event in the world where such number of press people is killed in a single instance. Not even war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan can match the tragedy in the number of journalists murdered.

The death of Atty. Connie Brizuela and Atty. Cynthia Oquendo brings to 26 the number of lawyers murdered since 2001 when Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo assumed the presidency.

The press people and lawyers were in the convoy with Jenalyn Tiamzon Mangudadatu to Shariff Aguak, capital town of Maguindanao, to file the certificate of candidacy of her husband, Buluan town vice mayor Eshmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, for governor. All the women in the convoy including Jenalyn were killed.

Karapatan, a human rights watchdog, called the death of Brizuela and Oquendo an irreparable blow to human rights promotion.

Mangudadatu has already filed his certificate of candidacy for the gubernatorial seat which is also eyed by Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr, presently under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

The NUPL was founded in September 2007 in the wake of rising human rights violations that included violent attacks against activists, journalists and lawyers. Since 2001, 1,200 people have been murdered, the suspects mostly members of the state security forces. Over 200 persons have been forcibly disappeared in the same period.

Some 104 journalists have been killed since 1986. The Arroyo regime accounted for 74 of that. The 27 fresh addition from the Maguindanao bloodbath brings the figure to 131.

In brief, 91 of the 131 fatal attacks against members of the press since 1986 happened under the Arroyo watch, surpassing the records of her predecessors – dictator Marcos, Cory Aquino, Fidel Ramos and Joesph Estrada combined.

Atty. Joshua Alim
Chair, NUPL-Iloilo

Atty. Neri Colmenares


Benny Antiporda, presdient, National Press Club Ilang-Ilang Quijano, National Union of Journalist of the Philippines Anakapwis Rep. Rafael Marinao



The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) strongly condemns the extrajudicial killings of our 2 Filipina colleagues and an unprecedented number of journalists and civilians in the Maguindanao massacre last 23 November 2009 by local warlords and paramilitary groups.


Attorneys Consuelo Brizuela and Cynthia Oquendo, who were active members of our Philippine affiliate, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), were murdered while exercising their democratic rights as well as the duties of our legal profession


We are appalled by this latest horrible attack on our colleagues and condemn the continuing climate of impunity that has besieged the Filipino people by state agents or clans closely associated with the government of President Gloria Arroyo.


The IADL has been monitoring these attacks with grave concern, which now include 26 lawyers killed and 56 other lawyers who have been persecuted and intimidated by arrests, threats, surveillance and labeling since 2001.


These atrocious attacks are part of other human rights violations targeting farmers, workers, partylist leaders, activists, community organizers, churchpeople, human rights and peace workers, and other human rights defenders. 


Since 2001, when Arroyo came to power, credible reports indicate that 1,118 persons have been extrajudicially killed, 204 disappeared, 1,026 tortured, and 1,932 illegally arrested.  Scores of others fell victims to various forms of human rights violations by elements associated with the government. We find these continuing attacks on human rights simply totally unacceptable


These killings and systematic human rights violations are engendered by the counterinsurgency program of the Philippine government, as confirmed by findings of UN special rapporteurs and international fact-finding missions.  This program led or encouraged the creation of pro-government paramilitary groups that have been terrorizing local communities allegedly sympathetic to the progressive movement.


The killings in Maguindanao are not only the result of a local political conflict but also the direct consequence of the policy conducted by the present administration in the Philippines of an all-out war against the progressive and peoples movement. This policy has led to a virtual standstill of the peace negotiations between the Arroyo government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).


The US and the EU have supported these unjust policies conducted by the Arroyo administration by criminalising and labelling legitimate organisations and leaders of the progressive movement such as Prof. Jose Maria Sison, NDFP chief political consultant, by including them in the so-called “terrorist” listings. Moreover, the US has a direct military presence and intervention through the Visiting Forces Agreement. 


This support to the Arroyo administration provides direct political, moral and even military basis for the total war against the Philippine progressive movement. The IADL urges the United States and the European Union to immediately end the support given to the Arroyo government.


The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) RESOLVES, through its Bureau in present session:


(1)   to continue to firmly support the responses of our affiliate NUPL in regard to these killings and attacks;

(2)   to call on all its member associations all over the world to spread the truth on these issues;

(3)   to send to the Philippines a mission of international lawyers to represent IADL and register its protest and speak with Philippine authorities and bar associations;  

(4)   to continuously monitor the situation, contribute to the efforts to address impunity, and make all those responsible for these atrocities and human rights violations accountable before various legal forums.



29 November 2009, London, United Kingdom


For the IADL:


Jeanne Mirer (USA), President                  Osamu Niikura (Japan), Secretary General

Joan Roig Plans (Catalonia), Treasurer    Roland Weyl (France), First Vice President

Mohammed Bentoumi (Algeria)                  Evelyn Durmeyer (Austria)

Jan Fermon (Belgium)                                 Yosif Geron (Bulgaria)

Augustin Kemadjou (Cameroon)                Vijender Jain (India)

Sabah Al-Mukhtar (Iraq)                               Micol Savia (Italy)

Fabio Marcelli (Italy)                                     Edre U. Olalia (Philippines)

Vanessa Ramos (Puerto Rico)                    Max Boqwana (South Africa)

Richard Harvey (United Kingdom)             Marjorie Cohn (USA)

Lennox Hinds (USA)                                     Beth Lyons (USA)

Dao Tri Uc (Vietnam)





Anbalagan Veerasamy, secretary general of the Confederation of Asean journalists


The official list of 30 media martyrs of Maguindanao
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
11/30/2009 | 12:06 AM

There were 30 and not just 27 reporters and media workers who were killed in a manner brutal beyond description in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, last Monday, November 23.

However, another journalist, Jolito Evardo of UNTV General Santos City, has not been accounted for as of press time.

The 30 media workers comprise more than half of the 57 confirmed casualties of what is now known as the Maguindanao or Ampatuan Massacre, according to a list compiled and verified by the Humanitarian and Fact-Finding Mission of the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ), a network of independent media organizations, including the PCIJ.

A body is dug from the mass grave where three crushed vehicles, including one belonging to UNTV, were also found. Romy Elusfa

Formed in 2001, the FFFJ provides financial assistance to the families of slain journalists, as well as legal support in the prosecution of their cases. Its founding members are the PCIJ, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, Center for Community Journalism and Development, Philippine Press Institute, Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, and Philippine News.

The FFFJ Mission was conducted in partnership with the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Mindanews, and the Free Legal Assistance Group and its affiliate Union of People’s Lawyers for Mindanao, which lost two female members in the Maguindanao massacre.

The FFFJ Mission arrived in Mindanao two days after the massacre to extend financial assistance to the victims, witnesses and their families, as well as to conduct an independent inquiry and documentation of the massacre. The FFFJ report will be released this week.

Dr. Raquel Fortun was named expert consultant of the Commission on Human Rights, in partnership with the FFFJ, to assist in Maguindanao. As verified by the FFFJ mission, what follows is a complete list of the 30 Media Martyrs of Maguindanao:

1. Adolfo, Benjie, Gold Star Daily, Koronadal City
2. Araneta, Henry, Radio DZRH, General Santos City
3. Arriola, Mark Gilbert “Mac-Mac," UNTV, General Santos City
4. Bataluna, Rubello, Gold Star Daily, Koronadal City
5. Betia, Arturo, Periodico Ini, General Santos City
6. Cabillo, Romeo Jimmy, Midland Review, Tacurong City
7. Cablitas, Marites, News Focus, General Santos City
8. Cachuela, Hannibal, Punto News, Koronadal City
9. Caniban, John, Periodico Ini, General Santos City
10. Dalmacio, Lea, Socsargen News, General Santos City
11. Decina, Noel, Periodico Ini, General Santos City
12. Dela Cruz, Gina, Saksi News, General Santos City
13. Dohillo, Eugene, UNTV, General Santos City
14. Duhay, Jhoy, Gold Star Daily, Tacurong City
15. Gatchalian, Santos, DXGO, Davao City
16. Legarte, Bienvenido, Jr., Prontiera News, Koronadal City
17. Lupogan, Lindo, Mindanao Daily Gazette, Davao City
18. Maravilla, Ernesto “Bart," Bombo Radyo, Koronadal City
19. Merisco, Rey, Periodico Ini, Koronadal City
20. Momay, Reynaldo “Bebot" Momay, Midland Review, Tacurong City
21. Montaño, Marife “Neneng," Saksi News, General Santos City
22. Morales, Rosell, News Focus, General Santos City
23. Nuñez, Victor, UNTV, General Santos City
24. Perante, Ronnie, Gold Star Daily correspondent, Koronadal City
25. Parcon, Joel, Prontiera News, Koronadal City
26. Razon, Fernando “Rani," Periodico Ini, General Santos City
27. Reblando, Alejandro “Bong," Manila Bulletin, General Santos City
28. Salaysay, Napoleon, Mindanao Gazette, Cotabato City
29. Subang, Ian, Socsargen Today, General Santos City
30. Teodoro, Andres “Andy," Central Mindanao Inquirer, Tacurong City

Still unaccounted for: Evardo, Jolito, UNTV General Santos City

The 30 media workers killed in Ampatuan, Maguindanao bring to 134 the number of journalists killed in the Philippines since 1986.

Of the total, 74 cases or more than half, were recorded from 2001, or under the watch of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. - For the FFFJ, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, November 2009




Press Release
November 26, 2009

Gabriela’s Silver year marks “i VOW to fight against VAW”;calls for justice to victims of Maguindanao massacre

Davao City--- Gabriela expressed rage against the ruthless killings of 47 individuals, most of whom are women in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, last Monday.

Gabriela is commemorating the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women this day (November 25) and paid tribute to all victims of violence against women.

"We are outraged of the brutal killings and we vow to seek justice to all the victims of the Maguindanao massacre".

Among those who were killed in Maguindanao massacre was Atty. Concepcion Brizuela, a member of Union of People's Lawyers in Mindanao and active member of Gabriela in North Cotabato. Atty. Brizuela was also active in the campaign against Violence Against Women and Children, Anti- Visiting Forces Agreement and an advocate for Good Governance.

According to Nisa Opalla regional spokesperson of Gabriela Women's Partylist in Southern Mindanao, " we are encouraging everybody to light a candle for all the victims of the Maguindanao massacre to show our commiseration and condemnation of this barbaric crime".

Meanwhile, after 25 years of empowering women, Gabriela marked the launching of its campaign dubbed as : i VOW to fight against VAW to carry on with the fight on violence against women and children, in the home and in the society at large.

Opalla said " amidst political repression and killings, poverty and hunger, we are commemorating the 25 years of Gabriela to further strengthen our rank to continue the fight for justice to all women victims of violence".

Gabriela Women's Partylist, the lone sectoral representative of women in Philippine Congress, will also bring this Anti-Violence Against Women campaign as part of its flagship legislative advocacy during the 2010 campaign trail.

After two terms in Congress, Gabriela Women’s Partylist has successfully worked for the ratification of RA 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Law and RA 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.

“The objective of the campaign is to continuously raise the public’s awareness on violence against women (VAW), instill vigilance among women, children and advocates and draw support for the victims of violence," said Opalla.

She added, "The campaign works as an information and education drive that includes the popularization of the issue, lectures and fund raising activities.”

In Davao City, Gabriela along with its affiliate organizations will conduct a cultural presentation depicting the “seven deadly sins against women” at the People’s Park on November 25, at 5:00-7:00 pm. This is in time of the commemoration of the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women.

A video advertisement of the I VOW to fight against VAW campaign made by the prestigious advertising group DM9JaymeSyfu, a long-time supporter of Gabriela, will also be shown to the public.

Opalla said, “We are encouraging the public to join and support the campaign against Violence Against Women and Children. Let us express our sympathy to all the victims”.

“For as long as there are women who can find it in their hearts to fight violence, GABRIELA will live and continue fighting for the next 25 years and beyond” Opalla concluded.

For reference:
Nisa Opalla
Gabriela Womens Party Spokesperson


Members of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers

of which the two massacred lady lawyers were active members



Series of 2009

The Maguindanao Massacre and Politics of Violence

Wherever there are powerful dynasties and warlords one can be sure these co-exist – nay, these perpetuate - deeply-entrenched poverty and social injustice.

By the Policy Study, Publication, and Advocacy (PSPA)
Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG)
November 28, 2009

The massacre of Maguindanao that happened on Nov. 23 is traditional politics at its madness. It bared an umbilical cord that binds two powerful dynasties – the Arroyos of Malacanang and the Ampatuans, warlords of Maguindanao and the ARMM. Their ties have been nurtured by political
patronage that, at its worst form, breeds a politics of violence.

The Ampatuans had a phenomenal rise to power beginning in 2001, the year when Gloria M. Arroyo became president – an offshoot of the second people’s uprising that January. The patriarch, Datu Andal Ampatuan, Sr. was a House representative and later became governor of Maguindanao
province. Endorsed by Arroyo, a son, Zaldy, was elected governor of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), while another son, Andal, Jr., became mayor of Datu Unsay. Andal, Jr. has been arrested and detained by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) as the suspected mastermind of the massacre that, to date, has left 57 people dead.

In all, the Ampatuan dynasty has 18 local and House officials: 2 congressmen (including Rep. Simeon Datumanong), two governors, one vice governor, three provincial board members, eight mayors, and two vice mayors. They control many of Maguindanao’s 27 towns. A cousin, Zamzamin
Ampatuan, has held s everal Cabinet positions the latest as energyundersecretary.

Mrs. Arroyo’s ties to the Ampatuans are defined by electoral votes. Maguindanao – for that matter, ARMM – gave the critical votes to her in the 2004 presidential election. Some 194,000 votes from the province were supposed to have been cast for Arroyo as against her closest rival’s (movie star Fernando Poe, Jr.) 60,000. In all, she garnered 555,000 from the ARMM compared to Poe’s 273,000. In 2007, Maguindanao gave a 12-0 sweep for the administration’s Team Unity (TU) even if its slate suffered major setbacks in the whole country.

Election fraud

The votes in both elections were, however, tainted by allegations of widespread fraud, fake election returns (ERs), pre-filled ballots, vote buying, and intimidation. It was because of these, together with other reports of election rigging in Cebu and other provinces that until today Arroyo is seen by many Filipinos as a fake president.

For delivering the critical votes, the Ampatuans’ private army was tolerated. Acting more than just typical warlords, they have at the latest count about 850 armed members. Many of these are actually members of the paramilitary Citizens’ Armed Force Geographical Units (Cafgu) and Civilian Volunteers Organizations (CVOs). In 2006 at the height of calls for her resignation, Arroyo issued EO 546 arming part of the CVOs and placing them under the local government units (LGUs). The Cafgu and CVO gave a legal cover to the Ampatuan dynasty’s private army. It turns out, however, that
even the Philippine Army’s 6th IB and police units were at the beck and call of the Ampatuans, with APCs and tanks made available for their own private security. In the Nov. 23 massacre, the firearms and ammunition used were reportedly supplied by the military while some policemen were seen among the perpetrators of the crime.

This whole war machinery came under the Ampatuans’ use on the pretext of fighting the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and for counter-insurgency under Arroyo’s controversial Oplan Bantay Laya. But like many LGUs, this quasi-police authority served another purpose and for
an entirely different agenda - something that was not entirely unknown to Arroyo officials and had been pretty much tolerated.

Especially in the rural provinces, this compact between the strong-arm president and political warlords results in the militarization of the civilian bureaucracy and breeds despotism that undermines civilian authority. It transforms the local government system into purely electoral machinery for the mutual support and benefit among the powers-that-be. It also converts many LGUs into instruments of counter-insurgency instead of being made to address the generational problems of poverty and social

Second poorest province

All these explain why Maguindanao remains the country’s second poorest province and the ARMM the poorest region. Wherever there are powerful dynasties and warlords one can be sure these co-exist – nay, these perpetuate - deeply-entrenched poverty and social injustice. Multi-million mansions and caches of firearms are an aberration in a land of poverty and oppression.

The Ampatuans are, of course, just one of the 300 or so political clans in the country that lord over Malacanang, Congress, and the local governments for as long as one can remember. Warlordism still thrives in many provinces.

Meantime, this quid-pro-quo politics promotes the culture of impunity under which the granting of favors to key LGUs, that includes tolerating private armies, is taken as a license for a reign of terror that hardens the monopoly of local power and makes warlords unaccountable to no one. All these will explain why the Maguindanao massacre took place. Vultures suck each other’s blood and civilians become just a collateral damage.

But it is not only the incorrigible local dynasties and the president who should answer for mayhems such as the Maguindanao massacre. Congress, at least its majority members, is equally accountable for tolerating the abuse of presidential power and for the arming of family dynasties. Both
the AFP and Philippine National Police should be reminded that they serve not the president or local chieftains but the country.

If there’s any immediate lesson that can be drawn from the massacre, it is not simply about failure of governance. It is the realization that the country’s problems are far more complex and run deeply than they appear to be. It tells us that one must begin to resist the politics of violence in order for the rays of hope to overpower darkness


Bobby Tuazon
Director, Policy Study, Publication and Advocacy (PSPA)
Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG)
TelFax +63-2 9299526; mobile phone: 0929-8007965
E-mail: info@cenpeg.org; cenpeg.info@gmail.com