Tag Archives: Esmael Mangudadatu

[People] Dispatches: Four Years On, No Justice for Maguindanao Massacre Victims. By Carlos H. Conde

Dispatches: Four Years On, No Justice for Maguindanao Massacre Victims
By Carlos H. Conde

The threat was unambiguous. If Bong Andal testified against one of the Philippines’ most powerful political families about their alleged involvement in the November 23, 2009 massacre on the southern island of Mindanao, his family would suffer. “They came again last month, showing our pictures to my relatives, letting them know that they’re watching us,” Andal told me by phone this week.

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Those threats – and the Philippine government’s inability or unwillingness to stop them – speak volumes about the glacial pace of judicial proceedings against alleged perpetrators of the Maguindanao massacre, in which the Ampatuan family’s “private army” murdered 58 people. Four years after the bodies of the victims were located off of a highway outside of the town of Ampatuan in Maguindanao province, the massacre remains a shameful exemplar of impunity in the Philippines.

The basic facts of the case are undisputed. Armed men paid by the Ampatuan family, including local police and soldiers, stopped a convoy that included the wife of opposition politician Esmael Mangudadatu, his supporters and family members, and more than 30 media workers.

Mangudadatu had sent them to file his candidacy for provincial governor in elections scheduled for the following year.

The gunmen herded everyone in the convoy to a hilltop a few miles away and promptly executed them. Many were buried in mass graves excavated by a backhoe operated by Bong Andal. In his statements to prosecutors, Andal said he witnessed members of the Ampatuan militia shoot several of the victims. The crime was the worst single attack against members of the media in history and one of the Philippines’ worst single incidents of political violence.

Four years later, the case is in effective judicial limbo. A total of 94 suspects remain at large. Bail petitions and testimony challenges by the defense lawyers of the 101 suspects in custody have overwhelmed the court.

But the problem of the Maguindanao massacre case is more than a failure of judicial process. It is about whether those threatening Bong Andal rather than the authorities control the proceedings. It’s a cruel reminder to activists, journalists, and politicians critical of the status quo that they too might be targeted with impunity. The human rights rhetoric of the government of President Benigno Aquino III has not transformed the dangerous reality on the ground. As Aquino enters the last half of his six-year term in office, he should recognize that he will be ultimately judged by his actions, not his words.

November 21, 2013

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[In the news] Body not found but 58th massacre victim recognized -INQUIRER.net

Body not found but 58th massacre victim recognized.

By Jeannette I. Andrade, Jerome Aning, Philippine Daily Inquirer
September 26, 2012

Although his body has not been found, Reynaldo Momay, a photojournalist from General Santos City, has been formally recognized by the Department of Justice (DOJ) as the 58th victim of the “Maguindanao Massacre” in 2009.

In a DOJ resolution, Assistant State Prosecutor Bernardo Parico said the dentures recovered at the crime scene in Barangay (village) Salman in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, as well as statements of witnesses that Momay was among those killed were enough evidence to prove that he was a victim.

Momay, 63, was working for the weekly community paper Midland Review when he joined a convoy of 58 people that accompanied the wife of then Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu of Buluan town in Maguindanao to the capital, Shariff Aguak, to file his certificate of candidacy for governor on Nov. 23, 2009.

All of them, including 32 media workers, were killed allegedly by members of the Ampatuan clan and their henchmen in Sitio Masalay in Barangay Salman, 3.5 kilometers from the national highway in Ampatuan town. Some were buried along with three vehicles, while others were shot in the head.

Murder charges have been filed against 197 people, including former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., former Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and former Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., in Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221.

Only 96, however, have been arrested and detained, and 78 of them have already been arraigned.

Read full article @ newsinfo.inquirer.net

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[In the news] Philippines under spotlight on Nov. 23 ‘Day to End Impunity’ – asiancorrespondent.com

Philippines under spotlight on Nov. 23 ‘Day to End Impunity’
By Tonyo Cruz

On Nov. 23, the second anniversary of the Maguindanao Massacre, the world remembers and asks everyone to stand up to impunity.

Now dubbed as “Day to End Impunity”, Nov. 23 will be a day of citizens’ action amid inaction of governments, such as that of President Benigno Aquino III, to shatter the culture and climate of impunity that allows the masterminds and perpetrators of extrajudicial killings to go unchallenged.

Although we have been told that our country has been under a new management with President Aquino, the Philippines is still way up there, along with Iraq and Somalia, in the Impunity Index, a list of countries based on the number of unsolved murders of journalists.

Read full article @ asiancorrespondent.com

[Press Release] Aquino Must Swiftly Bring Justice to Victims and Families of Maguindanao Massacre

The Visayas Clergy Discernment Group (VCDG) is alarmed that while the Supreme Court swiftly handed out decisions that would allow former President Gloria Arroyo to travel out of the country and the Pasay Regional Trial Court quickly issued a warrant of arrest to her, the victims and relatives of the Maguindanao Massacre are still searching for justice.

Two years ago, on November 23, 2009, armed men killed in the most barbaric and ruthless way, 58 people in a convoy of supporters of now Governor Esmael Mangudadatu who were on their way to file Mangudadatu’s certificate of candidacy. Those killed included 33 journalists who would cover the occasion.

The Maguindanao Massacre is the most brutal and unparalleled event of its kind in recent history. Allegedly perpetrated by the most trusted political allies of former President Arroyo in Mindanao, it was also the worst case of media killing in the world.

Church’s doctrines have recognized media’s role in providing information at the service of the common good (cf. Cathechism of the Catholic Church, #2494). In the same breath, the Roman Catholic Church’s Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II) in 1991 also condemns patronage politics and political dynasties which lopsidedly concentrated power on a few established families (cf. PCP II, #24).

Moreover, PCP II exhorts politicians to lead in renewing politics, to defend and promote justice, and to “put teeth to good legislation” by strictly enforcing a correct system of rewards and punishment (cf. PCP II, #350-352).

Today, however, two years since the mass murders, while more than 100 people led by former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr. are on trial for the massacre, no one has been indicted yet. This means that the victims and their loved ones have not found justice that is due them.

President Aquino recently said that “the guilty should be made accountable” because doing otherwise means allowing anyone “to abuse our people.” We are then calling on the Aquino Government, the Department of Justice and other government instrumentalities to speed up prosecution of those who are responsible for the Maguindanao Massacre.

While former President Arroyo and her partners must be tried for alleged electoral cheating, efforts of the Aquino government to give justice to victims and relatives of the Maguindanao Massacre should not result to a compromise and, worse, exoneration of those responsible, for the sake of pinning down Arroyo.

President Aquino must be true to his recent declaration that, “We are all working for a new Philippines… where whoever does wrong… is punished, a country where justice rules.” Meanwhile, he also said that he expects the massacre trial to go beyond his term. To be true to his reform agenda, the Aquino government must urgently deliver justice to the victims of the massacre.

For reference:
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, D.D.
Head Convenor

[In the news] Police blotter tells story of blocked witness – Inquirer.net

MAGUINDANAO MASSACRE TRIAL
Police blotter tells story of blocked witness
By Philip C. Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Even as the accused Ampatuan family members have gone to the Supreme Court to block the testimony of key government witness Kenny Dalandag, prosecutors on Wednesday succeeded in putting into the court record Dalagdag’s initial report to the police about the Maguindanao massacre.

Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes allowed policeman Cixon Kasan, former officer in charge of the Buluan, Maguindanao, police station, to read the entry he wrote in the police blotter when Dalandag went to the station at around 2 a.m. of Nov. 24, 2009, only hours after the massacre which left at least 57 people dead.

“(Kasan) was not supposed to testify now but we moved his testimony forward because the Ampatuans are stopping [Dalandag] from testifying,” said a prosecution team member who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak on the matter.

Read full article @ newsinfo.inquirer.net

[From the web] Alliance against impunity formed – Bulatlat.com

Alliance against impunity formed

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA –Wearing a black dress, Monette Salaysay took the stage and began speaking. Her voice broke and her tears fell the moment she uttered the name of her husband, Napoleon, one of the 32 journalists killed in the Maguindanao massacre on November 23, 2009.

“After two years, I thought I would no longer cry. But it still pains me,” Salaysay said in Filipino. “What makes it even more painful is the fact that the killing was brutal and that the former president knew how evil the perpetrators are.”

“I knew little about the law but I can say that we are just being given the runaround,” Salaysay, who religiously attend hearings, said. Since the massacre, only two members of the Ampatuan clan who are suspected of masterminding the carnage have been arraigned.

In the room are many other relatives of victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. Like Salaysay, they have lost their husbands, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, co-workers and friends to state violence. Now, as they continue to mourn and to search, they have started raising their fists against a monster called impunity.

Read full article @ bulatlat.com

[In the news] Kin of massacre victims oppose accused transfer – inquirer.net

Kin of massacre victims oppose accused transfer
By Julie M. Aurelio
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Relatives of 26 Maguindanao massacre victims have opposed a bid to transfer three accused who were not admitted as state witnesses to join the other accused in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

In a motion, the families, including Maguindanao governor Esmael Mangundadatu protested the sought-after transfer of Mohammad Sangki, Police Officer 1 Rainier Ebus and Inspector Rex Ariel Diongon.

Read full article @ inquirer.net

[In the news] Massacre victims’ kin amend plunder raps vs Ampatuans – Nation – GMA News Online – Latest Philippine News

Massacre victims’ kin amend plunder raps vs Ampatuans – Nation – GMA News Online – Latest Philippine News.

SOPHIA DEDACE, GMA News

Four relatives of journalists killed in the November 2009 Maguindanao massacre amended the plunder complaint they filed last January against members of the Ampatuan clan implicated in what is said to be the worst politically-motivated violence in the country.

In a 10-page supplemental affidavit, the relatives asked the Office of the Ombudsman to take cognizance of a Commission on Audit (COA) report detailing the alleged misuse of funds allotted for the office of Rizaldy “Zaldy” Ampatuan, suspended governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The COA’s scrutiny of funds covered January 2008 to September 2009, when Zaldy was still in office.

“The COA-SAO Report No. 2010-01 concluded that funds received by the Office of the Regional Governor for its own operation were not properly utilized and managed taking into consideration applicable laws, rules and regulations,” the affidavit said.

The original complaint was filed on Jan. 14, 2011.

Read full article @ GMAnews.tv (link above)

[In the news] Aftershock: Trauma after the Maguindanao massacre | ABS-CBN News | Latest Philippine Headlines, Breaking News, Video, Analysis, Features

Aftershock: Trauma after the Maguindanao massacre | ABS-CBN News | Latest Philippine Headlines, Breaking News, Video, Analysis, Features.

By David Dizon, abs-cbnNEWS.com

BANGKOK, Thailand — Rowena Paraan is a veteran reporter of many of the country’s upheavals in recent history.

But even she breaks down in tears when she recounts how she first gathered 140 relatives of the 32 journalists who were killed in the infamous November 23, 2009 massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

The gathering on January 2009 in Palawan was the first time that relatives of the 32 massacre victims were assembled in one room. Paraan, secretary general of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, called for the meeting to sort out misunderstandings between the relatives regarding the multiple murder cases filed against the Ampatuan clan and their supporters.

“At first, I thought I would just referee the group. But because it was their first time together, I asked them how they were doing and it came pouring out. By the time the sixth wife started talking about her husband, I couldn’t stop crying,” she recounted.

Less than 2 years later, the gruesome incident continues to shock. On Nov. 23, 2009, armed men kidnapped and brutally killed 58 people in a hilly portion of Ampatuan town in Maguindanao province and buried the bodies in shallow graves.

One veteran reporter who witnessed the investigation said the graves looked like a layer cake “with cars, bodies and dirt piled one on top of the other.”

At least 32 of the 58 victims were journalists sent to cover the filing of the certificate of candidacy of gubernatorial candidate Esmael Mangudadatu. Others were supporters of the Mangudadatus or were just motorists mistakenly identified as part of the Mangudadatu convoy.

Most of those killed were based in General Santos City, and majority worked for Mindanao-based publications.

Paraan said she joined 4 separate fact-finding missions to the massacre site from November to December of 2009. She said one of the most arduous tasks in the early part of the mission was identifying the bodies, meeting the families and establishing a body count in the massacre.

As a result, she witnessed firsthand the shock and trauma of relatives of the massacre victims.

Read full article @ abs-cbnNEWS.com