Last Monday, November 23, the entire Philippines then the entire world learned of the heinous massacre of some members of the Mangudadatu clan and accompanying media and friends who were simply on their way to the local Commission on Elections (Comelec) office in Maguindanao.
To-date, the body count is 57 people. Horrific by all standards. We have suddenly been thrust in the global news as being the first country where so many media people (who should, in all wars, be given protection as neutral and unarmed citizens) were slain at the same time and in the same place. Even more horrific was how the women were treated: they were allegedly humiliated via raping and shot or speared in different parts of the face and body.
Even now, I shudder at thoughts of how they all died. For many days after, while I tried to go about my normal business, a very heavy cloud hung over me and I would get teary-eyed while watching the news and seeing shots of the killing fields. I cannot even bear to put a single picture of the dead on this page. Now, I just want to write and let this be an outlet for all the negativity it has generated.
I am outraged, angry, and frustrated. No one deserves to die this way specially when they were not even in battle but were merely exercising their electoral right as Filipino citizens. I value life very much and when life is snuffed out like this under what was an obviously premeditated act (a backhoe belonging to the Province of Maguindanao was found near dugouts which were created even before the party of Mangudadatu set out for the Comelec), there is no other action than to find the mastermind and the doers of these dastardly deeds speedily.
The campaigning for elections has not even began and already we have the blood of innocents spilled for it. How safe will our brothers and sisters in Mindanao and the rest of the Philippines be in the run-up to May 2010? Are we here in Manila even safe?
I join in the call for the Philippine government to act swiftly, transparently and justly to bring the guilty before the courts of law with no special treatment whatsoever. This is not a time for any political favors to be granted. The outrage over the death of so many innocent people has now escalated to an international one and the whole world is watching and waiting to see how this government will deal with the Ampatuans, a clear ally of the present administration, who have been tagged as allegedly being behind the massacre.
We all need to be clearly satisfied that this government will run after all those involved in the massacre and put the full force of the law on them. Nothing less…