A new low.
March 15, 2010 4:09 PM   Subscribe

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.

Esmael Mangudadatu, 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]
posted by stinkycheese (21 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Melissa Roxas will be speaking at the Bayanihan Center next Monday, the 15th, at 6:30, for SF Bay Area folks interested in PI human rights issues.
posted by yeloson at 4:17 PM on March 15, 2010

Excellent FPP. Fascinating and terrifying in equal proportion.
posted by effugas at 4:24 PM on March 15, 2010

Thanks for this detailed post - I just read AceRock's post earlier, and that was one of the few tidbits casually thrown into that article.

I'm not familiar with the tactics of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (beyond the above linked wiki article), but for a group that splintered from another terrorist group because the original group wasn't retaliating against the government to deny the charges of a particular politically-motivated attack really does sound like a new low.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:28 PM on March 15, 2010

this post was inspired by AceRock's post earlier today on Philippino boxer Manny Pacquiao

Wait. What?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:30 PM on March 15, 2010

"we sent women because in the Muslim culture you don’t hurt women"

:: Starts to say something, stops to reconsider, decides not to touch this one with a ten-foot pole. ::
posted by Parasite Unseen at 4:33 PM on March 15, 2010

Yeah, I did this backward; couldn't watch the boxing footage when I came upon that thread, so read all about this. Now my reward is boxing footage... and trying to forget about this.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:38 PM on March 15, 2010

this post was inspired by AceRock's post earlier today on Philippino boxer Manny Pacquiao
Pacquiao is also involved in Phillippine politics, and running for a Congressional seat in the 2010 general election. He has in the past been a supporter of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
posted by scrump at 4:43 PM on March 15, 2010

There's so much about this that shocks me.

That I hadn't yet heard about it, of course, and that it even happened. That it reads more like a serial killer slaughtering people en masse than a "business" murder. That it happened over a local political race. That Genalyn Mangudadatu's text got through, but random passersby did not. That one human could do this to another, although by now I shouldn't be surprised.

Mostly, that it seems it's about to happen again. I mean, WHAT THE FUCK?!
posted by sallybrown at 4:44 PM on March 15, 2010

ChurchHatesTucker: "Wait. What?"

Relevant passage from the article:

This cognitive dissonance, the way Manny Pacquiao channels two mutually contradicting national narratives—it's not academic. Manny himself concedes that last fall, a Philippine mayor named Andal Ampatuan enjoyed a ringside view of his demolition of Miguel Cotto in Las Vegas. Two weeks later, Ampatuan's father, a former provincial governor irked by a political challenger to the Ampatuan clan's long-standing dominance, allegedly decided enough was enough and ordered his son to "take out" the man that very day and, if necessary, anybody "with him." There turned out to be quite a few "withs" on November 23, the day Ampatuan allegedly carried out his father's order—fifty-seven in all, including thirty journalists. (Though not the target himself, who knew he was in danger and had sent his wife and daughter, whom he presumed would be considered untouchable, to register his candidacy.) According to survivors, the mayor "thoughtfully" considered each plea for mercy, then laughed "at the top of his voice" as he delivered his verdicts at close range.
posted by joedan at 4:45 PM on March 15, 2010

Jesus. I heard about this when it happened, but had not heard about what's happened since. Don't know whether to be encouraged or discouraged by the followup.
posted by PMdixon at 5:10 PM on March 15, 2010

It made me heartsick to read about this right after it happened, and it makes me heartsick now. Just the FPP text is enough - I can't bring myself to click on any of the links. I don't even know what to say, but - please let them get the trials over with without any more horrifying loss of life.
posted by harujion at 6:43 PM on March 15, 2010

I to first read about this in the Pacquiao post. What a terrible tragedy.
posted by Sailormom at 6:59 PM on March 15, 2010

Thank you so much for such detail and so many sources on this horrific story. What a terrible story - I can't believe I hadn't heard of it before this. Is it me who wasn't paying attention or was this woefully under-reported by US media? Above and beyond the political assassinations - terrible enough in and of themselves - the massive reporter casualties - simply boggling.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:22 PM on March 15, 2010

That she txted him during it really gets me. He is very brave. Through one of the links I came upon a few photos of two different floats [slides 8, 9 and 10] from the University of the Philippines Lantern Parade.
posted by saucysault at 9:25 PM on March 15, 2010

Horrible things are happening in the Philippines, where people are being abducted and murdered for the ''crime'' of discussing politics. This goes on with the complicity of the government, which brands people terrorists if they have left-wing politics.

More than 20 years after the fall of Marcos, and extrajudicial killings are still carried out against political opponents of the government.
posted by wuwei at 11:06 PM on March 15, 2010

madamjujujive - As I recall, I read about this on the front page of the New York Times online when it happened, so there has been some international media coverage.

This event contributed to making the Philippines the second most dangerous country for journalists last year, behind only Iraq. Politically motivated killing of journalists is an ongoing problem there.
posted by aiglet at 1:38 AM on March 16, 2010

If you run a Google image search for "Maguindanao Massacre" there are dozens of photos. Needless to say, they are extremely gruesome. These people were literally and liberally butchered to death.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:26 AM on March 16, 2010

There was nearly a week of daily coverage from the BBC, much of it reaching the front page of the news website:
Monday, 23 November
Tuesday, 24 November (1)
Tuesday, 24 November (2)
Wednesday, 25 November (1)
Wednesday, 25 November (2)
Thursday, 26 November
Friday, 27 November

There are other good news gathering organisations out there, of course. Anyone who didn't hear about this when it happened may be getting their news from a source with a weak international focus.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 7:49 AM on March 16, 2010

FWIW I linked to a BBC article and a Time article in the FPP; these were about the only 'western' news sources I came across, not to say there weren't others. It is a bit surprising there wasn't more coverage, if only for the unprecedented amount of press killed.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:45 AM on March 16, 2010

It is a bit surprising there wasn't more coverage, if only for the unprecedented amount of press killed.

Well, to be fair, there's an effect there. Some of the people who would have reported on the incident were murdered. The gravity of the event was exposed gradually.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:54 PM on March 16, 2010

True mrgrimm, but I would've also thought that killing that many members of the press would sort of put a spotlight on the situation as well. I can't help wondering if Macapagal-Arroyo might have exerted some behind-the-scenes influence there?
posted by stinkycheese at 8:53 PM on March 16, 2010

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