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A Call to Stop Political Violence
The Maguindanao Massacre
Monday, November 23, was the date of one of the most gruesome (if not the most gruesome) massacre in the Philippines, if not the world. On this day, 57 people (at least!) were killed, all of them victims of political violence.
The killings were done in connection with the political plans of a certain vice-mayor to go against the ruling political family in Maguindanao (a province in Mindanao, Philippines). Even prior to the said date, this vice-mayor has already received threats from the same political family that they will kill him if he attempts to go against them. Fearing for his life, the vice-mayor asked both the police and the military to send their personnel to escort him when he files his certificate of candidacy (COC). Both times, his request was denied. In the end, the vice-mayor decided to request his family members (his wife, sisters, an aunt and several relatives) to file his COC. Thinking that they will not be touched, he allowed the women to be part of the convoy and even requested members of the media to go with the convoy. All the while, he was hoping that the women will not be harmed (due to their religion) and the journalists will be protected themselves by the mere fact that they were part of the media. He was wrong in both counts.
The 57 people killed that day included about 22 women. Of these women, one was the vice-mayor’s wife (said to receive the most torture from the killers), two were his sisters (one was pregnant) and one was his aunt (also pregnant) while the rest were either part of his team or women journalists. Of this 57 people, 22 were from the media who were just invited to cover the filing of the COC, while 15 were actually not part of the convoy. They were potential witnesses also killed and their only fault was that they were in the crime scene when the massacre happened.
One thing is clear in these killings, political desires were at force. There’s almost no doubt that the massacre was perpetrated to stop the vice-mayor from filing his candidacy and to protect the political dynasty of one family. Even though there has been political violence in the past, this is the worst of them all not only because of the sheer number of people killed within the day but also because it involves innocent women, journalists and even passersby. We are all still reeling from the gruesomeness of the crime done against these innocent people, a feeling that will not pass even in the near future. Local and even international communities were appalled by the massacre and the impunity with which it was planned and carried through.
Now the questions going in our minds are: will the real perpetrators of the crime be ever apprehended, tried and jailed? What were these perpetrators thinking when they hatched and carried out the plan? Did they think they will not be discovered? Despite the overwhelming and increasing evidences already gathered pointing to a member of the political family as the one behind the crimes, will the family’s closeness to the president result in this member going scot-free? Will there be further violence blowing up in that area (and even beyond) due to “rido” (revenge of the grieving family members against the family members of the political family)? Will other such politically-motivated crimes happen in my country? Will we ever see lasting peace in the area where the crimes were perpetrated and in the whole Philippines? And most of all, will we ever be free from such political violence?
I am writing this hub to call for an end to political violence.
I am writing this hub as a person who wants to see justice done for the crimes committed against my fellowmen.
I am writing this hub as a woman who is in shock with the way my fellow women were treated and killed.
I am writing this hub as a resident of Mindanao where Maguindanao is located and as someone who desires everlasting peace in this island I call home.
I am writing this hub as a Filipino who desires a clean, honest election for my people not only for the elections that will happen next year but also in the other elections to come.
I am writing this hub because, as a human being, it is my desire to see that, in every part of the globe (especially in my country), human rights are being respected at all times.
Most of all, I am writing this hub as a citizen of the world who only desires to see an end to such violence, not only in my country, but also in the rest of the world.
I dedicate this hub for the victims of the Maguindanao massacre. May justice be carried out not only on those who actually did the killings but also on those who masterminded them.