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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

PHILIPPINE MASSACRE - "Attack on Democracy"

In a country known for both political corruption as well as environmental tragedies, the people of the Philippines are trying to deal with an attack, not only on human life, but on Democracy as well.

The province of Maguindanao in the Southern Philippines is in virtual lock down after Philippine President Gloria Arroyo declared a state of emergency after what is being called the worst political massacre in Philippine history. With 46 people dead, the Philippine Massacre started when political rival Esmael Mangudadatu arranged a convoy to deliver his nomination for governor of Maguindanao province. Maguindanao province has been ruled by Andal Ampatuan for the past nine years. It is alleged his clan organized the killings to ensure Mangudadatu would not register as a candidate for governor.

Many critics of the regime doubt any justice will be served for the Philippine Massacre as Andal Ampatuan is a known ally of Philippine President Arroyo, having supported her run for presidency. Nonoy Espina from the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines echo's this sentiment “We don’t see anything much happening towards getting the perpetrators and… those responsible for this carnage. The army has identified a main suspect as a town mayor in fact, who belongs to one of the prominent political families, who happen also to be very, very close to our administration here.”

Since the Philippine Massacre, where supporters of Esmael Mangudadatu were stopped in Ampatuan, and consequentially herded several miles away, and shot. According to witnesses, several of the victims of the Philippine Massacre were mutilated and some people were thrown into the shallow graves.

The EU is condemning the Philippine political Massacre, in a statement by European Union External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner "I condemn in the strongest possible terms the barbaric killing of innocent civilians, including women, journalists and lawyers, who were preparing to participate in the electoral process in the Philippines."

David Dadge, International Press Institute director, see's the Philippine massacre as an attack on democracy and humanity “This is a senseless slaughter… It is the work of journalists to report on political campaigns on behalf of the public. By acting in this way these individuals have shown that they not only stand outside of democracy but also outside of humanity.”

At this time, the Philippine military suspects the politically powerful Ampatuan family as being the ring leaders behind the Massacre and has since deployed troops to search for the provincial governor. President Arroyo's government was very careful to distance themselves from the accused Ampatuan family. In a prepeared statement, she denounced the Philippine Massacre as "unconscionable" further stating nobody was "untouchable." Following through on the words of the capital, the national police chief dismissed Provincial Police Chief Zukarno Adil Dicay as well as three other officers believed to be complicit in the Massacre. According to National Police spokesman Leonardo Espina told local media that Police Chief Zukarno Adil Dicay had been seen with some of the gunmen earlier in the day of the Philippine Massacre on Monday.

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