Press Statement

Much has been said about the most gruesome massacre of innocents in Maguindanao on Monday.  However, less attention has been given on the complicity of this government in concocting the volatile mix that erupted in wanton killings that bloody morning in Ampatuan town.

In the first place, the massacre would not have happened had the AFP stopped supporting vigilantes and militiamen which it conveniently appropriates for its counter-insurgency program.  It would not have happened had the PNP been serious in disbanding and dis-arming private armies as its billboard at Osmeña Boulevard brags.  It would not have happened had the Gloria government junked the rule of the gun and its militarist Oplan Bantay Laya.

These practices spawned a culture of lawlessness and worsening human rights violations across the land.  Local warlords, like their national counterparts, impose their will as laws over their dominion.  Worse, law enforcers, including military commanders, become warlords too.

Under such a situation, it is expected that the 1,119 cases of political killings will continue to rise.  Already, seventy-four of these cases were documented this year alone. This does not include the 46 bodies exhumed from the site of Ampatuan massacre.

We join the families of the victims in seeking justice and accountability from the government for these dastardly acts.

As we condemn this latest barbarity, we also extend them our condolences, most especially to the Oquendo family who lost two members in the massacre.    Atty. Cynthia Oquendo, together with her father, was killed while lawyering for the Mangudadatu clan.   She was a human rights advocate and a member of the Union of Progressive Lawyer in Mindanao together with another massacre victim Atty. Connie Brizuela.

Chenny studied political science at the University of San Carlos, and was the education officer of the political party Student Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy until 1996.  While busy in her studies, she found time to be an organizer of Gabriela Youth inside the campus where she spent the first three years of her Law studies.  Even after passing the bar in 2000 and finally settling in her hometown in Cotabato, she always find time to drop by Cebu to and from Manila and renew ties with old friends here.

For her and all victims of state-sponsored terrorism, we cry out: Stop the Killings! Oust Gloria! ###


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