Philippines: Justice for murdered journalists and human rights heroes! End trapo politics now!

Medical workers cover the bodies of massacre victims, November 25, 2009.

By Sonny Melencio, Partido Lakas ng Masa

November 25, 2009 -- The Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) condemns in the strongest possible terms the massacre in Maguindanao. We assert that this is not only a problem confined to Mindanao, but that it’s a symptom of a festering and rotten political system. We predict that this violence will be the feature of the coming elections, as the political elite struggle with increasing desperation and ferocity for a share of the ever-dwindling national wealth and power.

[On November 23, 57 people were massacred by the ruling Ampatuan clan that governs the province -- see news report below.]

The Philippine elections are a veritable killing fields and the killings have begun!

We agree that the protection provided to the leaders of the Ampatuan clan by the regime of Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) has granted them political immunity, to act with impunity as they will. However, the political impunity of the families and clans that control the political establishment is a permanent feature of politics in this country. It’s the mark of trapo politics. And lest we forget, it was the Ampatuan clan that guaranteed Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s theft of the presidency.

The massacre happened because the rival Mangudadatu political clan was contesting the seat of power of the Ampatuans and were on their way to file their candidacy. In these clan wars, it’s the poor who are always the victims as they sacrifice themselves at the altar of trapo [elite politicians] politics and for the interest of rotten trapo politicians. The Maguindanao massacre exposes the sham of the political system and the electoral process in this country.

The PLM says that the people must act and put an end to this rotten system of trapo politics and the rule of the trapo politicians. Only then can we make a breach in this rotting carcass of the trapo political establishment and bring about fundamental changes in the political system. We need system change! We need to end to elite rule and establish a government of the masa [masses]. Only then can we be assured that the violence brought about by trapo political system will be removed.

[Sonny Melencio is chairperson of the Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM).]

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Maguindanao massacre search ends with 57 deaths

By Leo Reyes
November 28, 2009 -- The Mindanao massacre saga finally ended Friday with the arrest and detention of Mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr., a primary suspect in the killing of 57 civilians and journalists in Maguindanao, southern Philippines

The search for cadavers in the election-linked Maguindanao massacre site in southern Philippines has ended Saturday with 57 deaths according to police officials in the area. The week long search and rescue operations ended Friday resulting in the arrest of the prime suspect Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr. who denied participation in the gruesome massacre of helpless civilians.

Ampatuan is now detained at the NBI facilities in Manila/ The victims were in a convoy on their way to file the candidacy of Datu Unsay Vice-Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu who is running for governor of Maguindanao, a position currently held by a relative of the suspect. More than 20 journalists were with the convoy when they were ambushed, killed and buried in a hastily excavated burial ground. Witnesses said that women victims were raped first before they were shot and killed.

The Ampatuan and the Mangudadadu clans have a long standing political feud for the control of Maguindanao, a province in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. On Friday Ampatuan Jnr was indicted of ordering his private militia of more than 100 gunmen to open fire on the group, which included relatives of rival Muslim politician, Esmael Mangudadatu, some journalists and passing motorists who had no known quarrel with the gunmen.

After the burial of Mangudadatu's wife and relatives, the Vice-Mayor filed his candidacy for the gubernatorial post of Maguindanao accompanied by a convoy of military personnel and police escorts.