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
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
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
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
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
Atty. Joshua Alim
Atty. Neri Colmenares
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.
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:
to continue to firmly
support the responses of our affiliate NUPL in regard to these killings
to call on all its member
associations all over the world to spread the truth on these issues;
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;
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
For the IADL:
Jeanne Mirer (USA),
President Osamu Niikura (Japan), Secretary General
Joan Roig Plans (Catalonia),
Treasurer Roland Weyl (France), First Vice President
(Algeria) Evelyn Durmeyer (Austria)
(Belgium) Yosif Geron (Bulgaria)
(Cameroon) Vijender Jain (India)
(Iraq) Micol Savia (Italy)
(Italy) Edre U. Olalia (Philippines)
Vanessa Ramos (Puerto
Rico) Max Boqwana (South Africa)
Richard Harvey (United
Kingdom) Marjorie Cohn (USA)
(USA) Beth Lyons (USA)
Dao Tri Uc (Vietnam)
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
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
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
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
She added, "The campaign works as an information and education drive that
includes the popularization of the issue, lectures and fund raising
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
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.
Gabriela Womens Party Spokesperson
ISSUE ANALYSIS No. 14
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Director, Policy Study, Publication and Advocacy (PSPA)
Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG)
TelFax +63-2 9299526; mobile phone: 0929-8007965
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com