Phillippines: Massacre in Maguindanao

01 December 2009

On the 23rd November 2009, there was an election-related massacre that happened in Maguindanao, Philippines. More than 40 people were killed, many of them women.

Some of the women were raped before they were shot dead.There are no clear reports as to how many women were killed, though today, reports suggest that there were 57 victims, MOSTLY women.

By sending a delegation of women and women lawyers and media people to file the COC in Sharif Aguak, the heartland of the Ampatuan family, the Mangudadatu clan showed confidence that the 'haram' prescription would be observed. The 'haram' prescriptions call for the protection of non combatants, women and children from harm.

However, that did not happen. Used ammunitions in the area of murder showed that M16s were used. Warlordism in Mindanao, Philippines, should be put to a stop. Philippine warlords, in history, have threatened and killed scores of people. They are able to do so because they have private armies that have stockpiles of weapons.

This is a crime perpetrated by men on innocent civilians, largely women. Sexual violence is an issue of control wielded by men over women.

Statements were released by Miriam College, Phillippines, The Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement (MPPM) and The Philippine Action Network on Small Arms (PhilANSA)

Below is a statement released by Philansa:

PhilANSA condemns the massacre and calls for disbanding of private armies

The Philippine Action Network on Small Arms (PhilANSA) joins the public indignation in the barbaric act committed against 57 unarmed civilians, many of them women, in Maguindanao. This event creates a strong case against private armies, and a stronger argument on the need to institute stricter measures to control access to arms in society.

We hold both the local and the national governments accountable to this horrific act, on the following grounds:

- President Arroyo issued Executive Order 546 in July 2006, allowing local officials to deputize Barangay Tanods as force multipliers in the fight against insurgents. This EO, in effect, facilitated the conversion of some local officials' private armies into civilian volunteer organizations (CVOs), tacitly legitimizing an illegitimate group.

- In August 2008, at the height of hostilities created by the failed Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain or MOA-AD (between the Govt. of the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF), the Philippine National Police (PNP) distributed shotguns to several residents in Mindanao to serve as police auxiliaries. Instead of doubling its efforts to strengthen the enforcement of the rule of law in the affected areas, the PNP passed on the responsibility of security to individuals, reneging in effect on their sworn duty.

We call on the national institutions to show sincerity and firmness of resolve in going after the mastermind(s) and perpetrators of this gruesome crime. We call for the:

a. immediate arrest of all those responsible for the murder and sexual violence committed;

b. swift and impartial investigation of the Ampatuans and bring all perpetrators to justice;

c. place Maguindanao under COMELEC jurisdiction;

d. disbandment of all civilian volunteer organizations (CVOs) and private
armies in Maguindanao and other parts of the country where they exist; and

e. the strict enforcement of the registration of guns, especially in Maguindanao.

We reiterate our position that private armies and warlordism have no place in a democratic society. Private armies must be disbanded immediately.