Last November 23rd, upwards of 64 people (including at least 34 journalists) were killed
in the Philippines. It has become known as the Maguindanao Massacre
, the vice mayor of Buluan municipality in the Philippines, wanted to run for Governor. He was warned that, once he filed for candidacy, he would be chopped "into pieces" by rivals for the position; accordingly, Mangudadatu decided it would be safer if his filing were accompanied by journalists.
On the morning of November 23rd 2009
, a convoy of six vehicles holding Mangudadatu's relatives, his lawyers, as well as the aforementioned journalists, left Buluan to file the papers. The convoy was stopped along a highway by at least 100 armed men, who not only killed the members of the convoy
, but five other people as well who just happened to be driving along the same route that day. It is the most journalists
killed in a single incident
Mangudadatu's wife Genalyn was horrifically mutilated
before she was killed, his aunt and sister were both pregnant at the time of their murders, and five of the women present on the convoy were raped. All women present
were shot in the genitals
, this despite Mangudadatu's observation that "we sent women because in the Muslim culture you don’t hurt women"
. The carnage was so extreme that Philippino President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo included many photos of the victims
in her report urging Maguindanao province to be placed under martial law.
The main suspect was Mangudadatu's rival for the position: Andal Ampatuan, Jr., mayor of Datu Unsay, and son of the incumbent Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr. (Genalyn Mangudadatu identified Ampatuan, Jr. as being present at the massacre, and personally slapping her, in a text message to her husband before she was killed
). Three days after the massacre, Ampatuan Jr. turned himself in
to police where he was charged with murder
; he claimed he was innocent and that the killings were the work of MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front
). MILF in turn denied the charges
Maguindanao province was placed under martial law for the first half of December, hundreds of troops were sent in and raids were conducted
of the Ampatuans' properties, yielding more 300,000 rounds of live M16 ammunition. As of last month, almost 200 people have been charged in the massacre
, including Andal Ampatuan, Sr. Humans Rights Watch is now concerned that witnesses to the massacre are being intimidated and that a "second Maguindanao massacre of witnesses and their families" may be underway
Andal Ampatuan, Sr. was very close with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
, and many are skeptical
that justice will be done.
[this post was inspired by AceRock's post earlier today
on Philippino boxer Manny Pacquiao]