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by Echo Park Community Coalition (EPCC)
Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009 at 9:15 AM
epcc_la@hotmail. com 818-749-0272 337 Glendale Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026
When will peace reign in Mindanao? Martial Law declaration in Maguindanao - most dangerous political power play for Arroyo
With “looming rebellion” as the questionable legal basis for the declaration of Martial Law in Maguindanao, President Arroyo is setting the stage for the most dangerous political power play in her collapsing regime. Obviously, it is a pilot test that-depending on the public reaction-may as well be declared all over the Philippines. With regard to Maguindanao massacre, the Department of Justice filed rebellion charges against the Ampatuans-a device meant to justify the Martial Law declaration (existence of rebellion and related reasons) even if it is clear that the massacre was not a political case but pure and simple mass murder, a genocide. The rebellion charges may be intended to appease the Ampatuans instead of treating them as mass murderers.
img_3536.jpgdeteho.jpg, image/jpeg, 3888x2592
December 9, 2009
By: Arnedo S. Valera, Esquire
When will peace reign in Mindanao?
Martial Law declaration in Maguindanao - most dangerous political power play for Arroyo
With “looming rebellion” as the questionable legal basis for the declaration of Martial Law in Maguindanao, President Arroyo is setting the stage for the most dangerous political power play in her collapsing regime. Obviously, it is a pilot test that-depending on the public reaction-may as well be declared all over the Philippines.
With regard to Maguindanao massacre, the Department of Justice filed rebellion charges against the Ampatuans-a device meant to justify the Martial Law declaration (existence of rebellion and related reasons) even if it is clear that the massacre was not a political case but pure and simple mass murder, a genocide. The rebellion charges may be intended to appease the Ampatuans instead of treating them as mass murderers.
The public confession and admission of Retired General Palparan that the Arroyo government have been continuously arming the Ampatuans makes the Arroyo government a possible co-conspirator and to say the least an accomplice to these heinous crimes which under International law may fall within the definition of genocide .
Martial Law was last imposed in the Philippines on September 21, 1972. Since then, no declaration has been made , not even during the regimes of Cory Aquino who faced several coup attempts and the tumultuous regime of President Estrada who was later ousted by another “People’s Power”.
The Maguindanao massacre of Nov. 23 which claimed the lives of 60 civilians dramatized the politics of violence fostered by the Arroyo presidency. The mass murder, which has enraged the civilized international community including the United Nations, should hold into account not only the Ampatuan clan, whose members have been implicated, but also the Philippine president, Gloria M. Arroyo.
The Ampatuan dynasty, one of the Philippines ’ 300 political dynasties that for over a century have held the real power in all levels of the government, grew its fangs under Arroyo (2001-present). The Ampatuans consider as their fiefdom the province of Maguindanao as well as the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in southern Philippines .
Politically, the Ampatuans control 18 government positions including two seats in Congress, several local government units such as governors and mayors, as well as posts in the Arroyo Cabinet. Economically, they are said to have amassed wealth such as big landholdings, mansions, and other properties in the region.
Militarily, they run a big private army of about 850 armed “volunteers” using the legal cover of the paramilitary units Cafgu and the Civilian Volunteers Organization (CVO). It has even been said that the military in Maguindanao had been at the beck and call of the Ampatuans with APCs and tanks at their disposal. The arms and ammunition that were used in the Nov. 23 mayhem were supplied reportedly by the military while policemen were among the suspected perpetrators.
The power that the Ampatuans have wielded was built with tolerance if not support by Arroyo and her security forces. It evolved from a system of mutual support and benefit virtually contracted with Arroyo in the fraudulent presidential race of 2004 and the senatorial elections of 2007.
The Ampatuans delivered the critical votes that made Arroyo president in the 2004 election which is widely believed to be tainted by fraud, fake election returns, vote buying, and widespread voters’ disenfranchisement. Using the same manipulations in 2007, they also made sure that Arroyo’s senate slate won overwhelmingly in Maguindanao (12-0) and in ARMM. In effect, Arroyo owed a political debt to the Ampatuans as the latter had to the president.
It is this kind of political ties nurtured by patronage politics wielded by Arroyo – her predecessors as well – that engenders a culture of impunity among many of the country’s family dynasties making them and their cohorts unaccountable to no one. This culture of impunity takes its roots at the high officialdom where Arroyo still keeps power despite charges of plunder, corruption, election fraud, and human rights violations.
The Maguindanao massacre may appear shocking and definitely condemnable to many Filipinos and the world community. Objectively, however, it was bound to happen in a country whose various governments from Ferdinand Marcos to the present have been known to perpetrate a culture of atrocities not only against their political enemies, particularly Leftist activists, but also countless civilians caught in the crossfire of resurgent armed conflicts.
The Nov. 23 massacre is reminiscent of the series of massacres that hit Mindanao in the turbulent 1960s-1970s as thousands of Moros were uprooted by corporate landgrabbing, political vendetta, and a strong anti-Moro bias of the government. The massacres gave birth to a politics of resistance as Moro leaders began to fight for secession.
Mindanao – land of the brave, land of the frontiers. When will it ever see peace? When will the Philippines ever see justice? When will it see the final reckoning against a politics of violence long foisted against the people by the traditional elite?
Whatever President Arroyo and her cohorts are orchestrating right now, it is obvious that it is to suit the power agenda of Arroyo after she steps down from the Presidency. Her running for the House is enroute to becoming House Speaker, then possibly as Prime Minister through her Cha-Cha.
What can we say? Is this evil or lunatic? It’s both.
Despite this tragedy that created a permanent scar to our national psyche as nation, let it be said that the “Ampatuans” is not a representation of the genuineness and the inherent goodness of the Filipino people.
My hopes remain high that as one nation, the Filipino people will rise to greatness and deliver a collective response to this national tragedy.
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