With the brutal killings/massacre that occurred in Maguindanao last November 23, 2009, I decided to tail the news headlines about this gruesome event for me to see how long and how will the justice be served to the victims of this massacre. To date, after 23 days of updating my blog with the headlines from varying news sources, which mostly are from PhilStar (thanks to them), all I could conclude is that the pace of the investigation against the Ampatuans are moving idly. After 23 days, there are still no concrete resolution about the suspects, the security for Maguindanao province and its residences, as well as justice assurance for the victim's families!
Adding up to my dismay is when I read about the complaints against the Ampatuans more than a year before the massacre happened. The complaint letter came from concerned people's organization and was sent to the Office of the President (OP). And it has been more than a year, but there have been no actions, no comments, no investigations happened until this inhumane killings occurred. If only the government have done their job upon receiving the letter, this incident may have been prevented, the brutal killings which have been previously happening in the province may have already stopped, the justice for the victims would've been served, and the Journalists, innocent people, and Mangadadatu women would've been still alive up to this time.
Below is the excerpt from PhilStar about this complaint letter received by the OP on Aug. 11, 2008:
A concerned people’s organization has complained to the Office of the President (OP) about numerous irregularities in Maguindanao, and the information has been referred to the Office of the Ombudsman and to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) as early as last year, according to documents obtained by The STAR.
In a letter received by the OP on Aug. 11, 2008, the concerned people’s organization appealed to President Arroyo for her “noble attention to our agony” about “our local leaders (that) fill our hearts with terror and degradation.”
The same letter was received by the General Government Administration Office on Aug. 12, 2008, which subsequently endorsed it to the Office of the Ombudsman “for information and appropriate action” on Aug. 14, 2008.
The anti-graft agency received the letter last Sept. 3, 2008.
It referred the letter to the CHR on Nov. 11, 2008. The CHR received the document on Nov. 24, 2008.
“The province of Maguindanao is entirely unique from the rest of the country,” read the letter.
“It is ruled by a wealth (sic) and blood-raven governor, Datu Andal Ampatuan Sr. This place is seriously ill that needs serious attention of the national and local authorities.
“We are very much worried seeing our home place now became killing fields (sic).”
The five-page letter said the rule of Ampatuan Sr. “gave birth to tyranny in Maguindanao” amid corruption as well as what the group described as “carnage of innocent people.”
“Ambush dramas happen wherever the government would like it,” read the letter.
It mentioned certain areas where the alleged schemes were carried out, including the Quirino Bridge in Cotabato City and Datu Odin Sinsuat municipality.
The letter said these “ambush dramas” were planned to boost the popularity of the Ampatuans, as well as for the clan to get more sympathy from the people of Maguindanao.
These ambush dramas were intended to allow the transfer of the provincial capitol from Sultan Kudarat to Shariff Aguak, the letter added.
The letter said it was made to appear that the life of the governor was in danger while on his way to the provincial capitol in Sultan Kudarat.
“Today, the provincial capitol is already in Shariff Aguak, hometown of the Ampatuan clan,” read the letter.
“The transfer of the capitol in their hometown paves the way to their over doings (sic).
“It allows them to maneuver affairs to suit their needs such as results of elections and exploit the resources of the province for their own personal pleasures and to stay in power.”
The letter reported other alleged incidents:
• The untoward death of the governor’s son, Saudi Ampatuan, former mayor of Datu Piang, due to an alleged “mishandling” of the so-called ambush drama;
• The killing of an entire family, including an eight-month-old child, who was buried alive in Datu Piang, for being relatives of “somebody in their hit list”;
• The abduction, rape, and murder of a high school student of Notre Dame of Dulawan, who was subsequently “thrown like an animal;”
• The murders of alleged former fiancée or boyfriends of certain wives of the governor as well as the wife of his son and namesake, Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr.: and
• The death of a man through the use of a chainsaw.
The letter said the man was subsequently buried “in the rice field somewhere in Shariff Aguak.”
The victim was reportedly an employee of the capitol and a relative of former governor Zacaria Candao, the letter added.
The letter said the Ampatuans kill people for fun as if they were hunting their prey for sport.
“These are only few of the cruel acts the governor and his family members had done,” read the letter
“These days, human rights have died in this face of the earth (sic).”
The letter also talked about alleged misuse of government funds in Maguindanao, purportedly by the Ampatuan family.
Government projects in the province are funded out of the governor’s pork barrel and those of close relatives in the House of Representatives, not from provincial revenues, which are for the governor’s “personal aggrandizement,” the letter added.
The letter said the governor expends the resources of the provincial government “like his own wealth and properties,” and allegedly buys personal luxury cars “as often as he wishes” and builds mansions and houses in various cities.
“The people’s eyes are deceived with some developments scarcely sprouting in selected few places in the province,” read the letter.
The letter said that the provincial government bought earth-moving equipment used in the governor’s vast agricultural lands and properties allegedly grabbed from the people.
Development funds from line government agencies are released on condition of sharing portions or in exchange for favors, the letter added.
The letter said the Ampatuans had allegedly organized private armies under the guise of Civilian Volunteer Organizations (CVOs), Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Units (Cafgu), and auxiliaries.
The private armies were armed with around 600 assorted firearms for use of the Army and police, the letter added.
The letter said the private armies were being used by the Ampatuans “to fight for their grudges and run after their political foes.”
“The people in ARMM are really in deep frustrations,” read the letter. Towards the end of the letter, the concerned people’s organization asked Mrs. Arroyo “to put an end to this chaos regime and save the lives of the people.”
“Help us for the truth to prevail and have our caring leaders (sic),” read the letter.
“After all, not only this region will benefit from our long awaited and dreamed peace, but also the national leadership will have at least peace of mind and focus to economic progress (sic).”