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The Maguindanao Killing

By: Rona Ysais

The Philippines was surprised by a repugnant incident – morning of November 23 in the southern part of
the country, almost 60 people – including 2 politicians who were about to file their certificates of
candidacy (CoC), as well as journalist covering the event and some civilians were confirmed killed on
their way to the local Commission on Elections (ComElec) office in Maguindanao, an autonomous region
in the politically-ill island of Mindanao.

The mass graves were found in the Ampatuan town in Maguindanao Province. It was believed that the
occurrence of the said killings was because Buluan town Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu is challenging
Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr. in the forthcoming Maguindanao gubernatorial election in 2010.

Certainly, there are several independent variables that triggered the perpetrator to commit such human
rights violation. Would those collective independent variables be enough reason to kill these people? I am
not sure of what are those independent variables, but as for me a heartless person is sufficiently brave to
commit a not forgiving crime.

Indeed, we live in a democratic country, we have freedom to exercise our rights but we do not have the
right to aggravate the lives of others. Every person who is adequately credible can run for a position for
the 2010 election. Particularly, for those who have good intentions of reconstructuring or transforming
their area of responsibility by means of eradicating the unlawful norms, which makes the system injustice
for the people. As for Esmael Mangudadatu’s decision to run for the 2010 gubernatorial election, it is his
right to do so - maybe, he felt injustice in their local government, which drove him to a decision to
challenge the opposition party. Sadly, such decision led to the death of his lawyers, wife and two sisters
even before he could fulfill his dream to serve his people?

Moving on, journalists who were assigned to cover the event became the news’ context. They were
supposed to disseminate information to people who puts their eyes on the 2010 election candidates. Due
to the unexpected and heartbreaking incident, they were not able to broadcast the filing of the said two
candidates as eight of them were also killed in the incident. Their co-journalist broadcasted the poignant
event that said to conclude the month of November.

Along with Mangudadatu’s wife and sisters and the journalists, there happened to be some civilians who
went on with them, in a different vehicle, they were also laid to rest. They are all innocent but then when
death calls no one will be excused.

We do not have enough tangible evidence that could pinpoint the Ampatuans as culprits but as the legal
process continue to move then eventually we could declare who should be penalized. The process may be
taking slow but its progression is important to take note, at least we have the assurance that it is ongoing.

While the case is on progress, should we just call it “Maguindanao killing”, to quote Dr. Claire Carlos, a
professor in UP Diliman, “massacre is a conclusion already.” We all know that the case is still moving on
and we haven’t heard the side of the perpetrator, we should not jump into conclusion for we have to
provide empirical data that will support the idea of “massacre”.

Whenever election is approaching incidents like this happen. It only shows how greedy some politicians
are for power and prestige. Still, our government does not learn from the past. The kind of scenario that
we wish to blast off will continue to happen if we let it be. When are we going to move? It has been
constant, for the past years, months and weeks, the call for change. Have you reflected lately? If yes, did
you see or feel the change? If not, maybe you should not bother because in reality nothing has changed in
our system so far. Just like the scenario that this country is facing since time immemorial, most politicians
still run for government positions for the fulfillment of their own respective self-interests and nothing but
their own self-interests!

Nothing is being done to protect the lives of the Filipino journalists against these powerful people who
prey on the weak. If the government cannot even protect the lives of the journalists, how can it protect the
whole nation? Sadly, this is the kind of country we live in nowadays –adorned with rampant slaying and
blatant act of savagery everywhere. Ironically, every politician has the nerve to promote peace, equality
and national security during their campaigns. Some 2010 senatorial and presidential candidates even used
the Maguindanao massacre to gain publicity for their own political drama. What a piece of rubbish.

In conclusion, I would like you, readers, to reflect on this “what is it going to look like in the coming
years, if we just stay here in the starting line and keep shouting and calling for change… we need to move
on.”