On the 2nd month of the Ampatuan massacre

Rights advocates launch fact-finding mission to Maguindanao


Cotabato City


January 22, 1010





13 widows of journalist victims of the Ampatuan massacre file charges of gross negligence and dereliction of duty against Major General Alfredo Cayton, then commanding officer of the 6th ID of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and Col. Medardo Geslani, the 601st Brigade Commander, at the Office of the Ombudsman for Mindanao. Photo and caption courtesy of Barry Ohaylan of www.davaotoday.com


Kalinaw Mindanao convenors in a presscon in Cotabato City, 10 AM Jan. 22, 2010

Panel from left : Amirah Ali Lidasan convenor of Kalinaw Mindanao, Pastor Orlando Zambrano of the United Methodist Church, and Bai Ali Indayla, Secretary General of Kawagib Moro Human Rights Alliance (Photo by Kodao Productions)





PRESS RELEASE – 22 January 2010

Reference:    Lovella de Castro, Spokesperson



On the 2nd month of the Ampatuan massacre

Rights advocates launch fact-finding mission to Maguindanao


METRO MANILA – Human rights workers and advocates head to Cotabato City today for the National Interfaith Mission for Peace and Justice in Maguindanao, on the second month after the Ampatuan massacre.


“To pursue justice.” This was one of the objectives of the mission stated by Lovella de Castro, Secretary General of Karapatan and one of the head conveners of Kalinaw Mindanao, as she leads the contingents to Maguindanao.


Kalinaw Mindanao is a coalition of human rights and service-oriented institutions, organizations and concerned individuals led by Alliance Against Impunity in Mindanao, Pagbabago! Movement for Change, Karapatan, Kawagib Moro Human Rights Alliance and Barug Katungod Mindanao.


The Mission also aims to document incidents of human right violations in the aftermath of the massacre. According to the initial reports received by Karapatan through its local chapter in the ARMM region, more than a thousand families from several baranggays in Ampatuan, Rajah Buayan and Sharrif Aguak were forced to flee their homes due to fear of being caught in the crossfire between government troops and the Ampatuan’s private armies.


Together with relatives of the massacre victims, the Mission team shall also visit the massacre site in Ampatuan town tomorrow, January 23, to mark the second month of the incident.


De Castro also added that the people should not forget the killing of 57 individuals on November 23. “We wish to mark the 23rd day of every month a red-letter day in our calendar so that we may be reminded of the brutal massacre,” she said.


“Extrajudicial killings are being perpetrated with impunity under the Arroyo administration, and it is our responsibility as human rights workers to document and expose all these atrocities, so that the peace-loving Filipinos should remain vigilant and be able to take actions against repression,” de Castro concluded.  ##



Convenors of Kalinaw Mindanao are Alliance Against Impunity in Mindanao, Barug Katungod Mindanao, Kawagib, Karapatan and Pagbabago People’s Movement for Change


Photos cvourtesy of KAWAGIB.



Mission to visit Ampatuan massacre site on second month commemoration

An interfaith mission called Kalinaw Mindanao will spearhead an on-site visit on Sitio Masalay, Salman, Ampatuan in Maguindanao Saturday, the day that marks the second month of the tragic Ampatuan Massacre that killed 57 civilians including 32 journalists and two human rights lawyers.

Families of media victims will be joining this on-site visit, together with church people, lawyers, media groups and human rights groups. Personalities including Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo and the Commission on Human Rights are expected to join this event.

Atty. Carlos Isagani Zarate of Alliance Against Impunity in Mindanao, one of the convening groups of Kalinaw Mindanao, said that the visit is significant to “show our support to the families in the search for justice.”

Zarate lamented that two months since the massacre, only one suspect Andal Ampatuan Jr. has been tried for murder. The rest of the Ampatuans, influential and known for being powerful allies of the Arroyo administration, are charged with rebellion, which Zarate fears could be easily be dismissed.

“Worse is that the suspects might be exonerated. That is a possibility that we, especially the families of the victims, are so wary about now. We have been witnesses to how this government allowed the culture of impunity to flourish in our midst and we cannot allow that to happen anymore. The blood of all the victims of the Ampatuan Massacre must end this culture of impunity now,” Zarate said.

The group pointed out that under the Arroyo administration, the impunity of military death squads, private armies and warlordism has taken away about 350 lives in Mindanao alone. Various human rights groups, including United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston, had attributed the killings to the government's Oplan Bantay Laya security doctrine.

For now, Mission convenors said they will help in pursuing the case and demand accountability from the government.

Another part of the mission would be the visit to evacuees who are now encamped in makeshift houses near the massacre site. They have fled homes after the imposition of the State of Emergency and later of Martial Law in Maguindanao province.

"The evacuees are either mute witnesses to the crime or they have fled because they fear for their lives," Zarate said. Some 1,000 families will be benefited by the Mission's relief operations.

A public presentation of the Mission is set on January 26 in Davao City.

Kalinaw Mindanao is composed of Barug Katungod Mindanao, Alliance Against Impunity in Mindanao , Karapatan, Kawagib Moro Human Rights Alliance, and Pagbabago! Movement for Change.

Atty. Carlos Zarate
Alliance Against Impunity in Mindanao




A -15 person delegation including German volunteer Silvio Choler of the Asian Human Rights Network arrived at the Kawagib Office, Cotabato City on Jan. 22 for a briefing on the Fact Finding Mission


Photos courtesy of KODAO Productions



Kin, advocates to mark massacre's 2nd month anniversary in Maguindanao solidarity mission

DAVAO CITY – Journalists and rights advocates will troop to the site of the Ampatuan massacre in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao on Saturday (January 23) to commemorate the second month of the notorious massacre of 57 civilians, the most brutal case of election-related violence in the country.

Members of the Alliance against Impunity in Mindanao (AIM)-Davao will join the Interfaith Peace and Mercy Mission in Maguindanao, an activity spearheaded by the Kalinaw Mindanao and Kawagib Alliance for Moro Human Rights on January 23 to 25. AIM-Davao is an aggrupation of church people, human rights defenders, journalists, and members from the academe united on the bases of peace and justice.

“Our aim is not only to further expose the brutality of the butchers of Ampatuan massacre but more importantly, to unmask the monstrous complicity of the Arroyo government, its culpability in backing not just the private armies of the warlord Ampatuans but also in maintaining the public army--the AFP--that has engendered the violence,” said Atty. Carlos Zarate, spokesperson of AIM and secretary-general of the Union of Peoples Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM).

The group will depart on Saturday for Sultan Kudarat where it will meet with other contingents to the fact finding mission which will include the families of the victims. They will then proceed to Ampatuan town, Maguindanao to hold a symbolic offering at the exact site of the massacre as tribute for the victims.

Zarate said the group will conduct a case documentation of human rights violations that took place after the declaration of Martial Law in Maguindanao.

“This journey is also a show of solidarity with the families of the victims. All of us here lost a family, a colleague and a friend on that fateful day of the massacre, and we are united in fighting for justice and in saying that we will never forget this incident,” Zarate said.

One of the delegates to the mission is Evangeline Pitao, mother of Rebelyn Pitao who was abducted, raped and killed by suspected military agents last year.

“Ang akong anak, usa pud ka-biktima sa bangis nga gubyernong Arroyo, busa nakighiusa ko sa mga pamilya sa biktima sa Ampatuan masaker,” said Pitao, also the spokesperson of Hustisya-SMR, an alliance of victims of political killings under the Arroyo government.#

For reference:

Atty. Carlos Isagani Zarate
0917- 717-4014





THIRTEEN WIDOWS OF JOURNALIST VICTIMS of the November 23 Ampatuan massacre file charges of gross negligence and dereliction of duty against Major General Alfredo Cayton, then commanding officer of the 6th ID of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and Col. Medardo Geslani, the 601st Brigade Commander, at the Office of the Ombudsman for Mindanao.

The lawyers of the victims’ families said Cayton – recently promoted to the post of the Philippine Army vice commander – and Geslani gave the journalists ‘go’ signal to cover the Mangundadatu’s filing of certificate of candidacy despite prior knowledge of the massing of troops and a possible ambush on the road. Journalists wearing black and carrying placards expressed their support to the victims’ families. (davaotoday.com photos by Barry Ohaylan)