By Raïssa Robles
As my contribution to this day of remembering, I’d like to share with you all what I wrote two days after the Ampatuan massacre. I thought I had lost this piece forever when my original site went down due to hacking. Fortunately I found it again today. The post-massacre photos in this piece were taken and generously shared by Rolivel Elusfa. A word of caution. They are extremely graphic.
It’s close to midnight of Day 3 since at least 57 unarmed women and men were murdered in broad daylight and still not one of around 100 suspects have been nabbed and presented to the outraged public. This is despite your declaration of a state of emergency in that area under Proclamation 1946. (By the way, your office has not released the text of this Proclamation. Wonder why.
How do you sleep at night, Mrs President, knowing you could have prevented this?
You must know who the Butchers of Maguindanao are and how this might affect the outcome of the 2010 presidential elections next year.
If the Ampatuans are guilty, you know that they know a lot of your dirty secrets. The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), where Zaldy Ampatuan is the governor, has 1.5 million registered voters. You won by one million votes in 2004.
It fills me with horror that if even one of them perpetrated the crime, you were meeting with ARMM Governor Zaldy Ampatuan on November 23 – the very day the massacre was taking place.
Did Governor Zaldy know something bad was scheduled to happen? It’s like a scene straight out of The Godfather mafia movie.
Governor Zaldy was there trying to get you to endorse Lakas Party Congressman Munir Arbison to run as governor of Sulu, your political strategist Gabriel Claudio said afterward. Sulu’s incumbent governor is Sakur Tan, who is in your Kampi Party. That is another dangerous political brew in the making. It would be just like Maguindanao where your two party mates – the Ampatuans and the Mangudadatus – are fighting it out not only for the governorship but for various local posts.
The massacre would not have happened if your Lakas-Kampi Party had resolved the Maguindanao gubernatorial issue internally.
I was thinking, if you’re really after swift impartial justice, why don’t you do it Manila style? Treat the suspects the way the police treated broadcaster Ted Failon after he found his wife shot in the head on April 15 this year.
Only hours after the incident, the police arrested Failon even without a single witness pointing an accusing finger at him. Even without a criminal complaint being filed against him. The police subjected him at once to a paraffin test because they said it was imperative that they find out whether he had fired a gun.
Four policemen were relieved afterward but only for the “forceful arrest” of his two relatives, not for arresting Failon.
When the test on his hands and clothes turned out negative for powder burns, the police insisted he was still their prime suspect because paraffin tests are not that reliable after all.
In the present case of mass murder, the prime suspect was at once tagged by Esmail Mangudadatu, husband of one of the victims and a relative of several others. The police and military knew beforehand there was a security threat against the husband because he had asked for armed government security to escort his wife. The authorities turned him down.
During that fateful day, the victim had phoned her husband Esmael Mangudadatu just before dying, to tell him that about a hundred men had blocked her group. She even named the ringleader of the armed blockade – Andal Ampatuan, Jnr. This turned out to be one of her last words before dying.
Hours later, she turned up dead.
It was this phone call that alarmed her husband into alerting authorities to look for her.
What did you do when your own party mate Esmail Mangudadatu asked for help?
Instead of the prime suspect – fingered by no less than one of the victims shortly before dying – being picked up by police for questioning and subjected to the usual paraffin test, you sent top presidential aide Jesus Dureza to talk to the suspect’s father and to ask for the family’s cooperation in the investigation.
Is that standard operating procedure when a murder happens? You ASK the family of the main suspect – could you pretty please cooperate with the investigation?
Many of the dead were reporters. Have you sent anyone to offer your condolences to their families? Or are they outside your concern?
The only demand to date from the presidential palace is for the murderers to please turn themselves in. It has sent no posse to pick them up the way Ted Failon and his relatives were immediately picked up for questioning.
The massacre happened last Monday. No one in the Ampatuan family has publicly said a word and it’s now Wednesday midnight.
No one has been arrested.
From now on, will you be treating all suspects that way? Or just these suspects.
You know, even if I did write about this for my newspaper (South China Morning Post, HK) I never really grasped the full-scale of the horror until I saw the photos of the victims sprawled on the grass like discarded trash. Many of them were killed because like me, they were just reporters.
The husband, Mangudadatu, recounted on RMN-DZXL radio that his dead wife was tortured while still alive:
Ang masakit po – nakita ko kagabi noong inautopsy ang aking asawa, nilaslas po ari, binaril ari, binaril sa bunganga. Yung kanyang kanang mata pinalabas. Yan po ay sobrang hindi po makatao. Lahat ng pinsalang doon, pinagbabaril ang ari para sa ganon hindi po magkaroon ng positibong resulta pagka ito’y nagkaroon ng masusing pagsusuri sa kanilang mga ari. Yun ang paniwala ng mga nanggahasa.
Here is the rough translation:
The painful thing is, I saw my wife last night when she was being autopsied. Her genitals had been slashed, and shot. She was shot through the mouth. Her right eye was gouged out. That is so inhuman. All that mutilation, her private parts were shot at so that there would be no positive results upon examination. That was what her rapist thought.
And the Mangudadatus were also your party mates.
In some photographs, some of the bodies have the flies of their pants open. And some are naked. Those are the women. Some also look pregnant. Mangudadatu confirmed his slain sister and two aunts were pregnant.
In a normal world the President of the Republic of the Philippines would be foaming at the mouth and spluttering in rage at this blatant butchery.
It took you – let me see – two days to express personal outrage.
Today you called for a day of mourning.
NO, Mrs. President, it should be DAYS OF OUTRAGE.
Your presidential standard-bearer Gilberto Teodoro earlier issued statements making it appear he has nothing to do with the deadly quarrel between the two Maguindanao clans. But in truth he has everything to do with it because the week before the massacre took place you made him chairman of Lakas-Kampi Party.
Or is he just a puppet with you pulling the strings?
At this very moment while I’m writing this entry I hear on the evening newscast that Teodoro and his running mate Edu Manzano visited today the grieving spouse, Mangudadatu.
Teodoro urged the Lakas executive committee to expel ARMM Governor Zaldy and his father, three-term Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan, “for their failure to supervise as heads of the Ampatuan clan the principles of our party for peaceful, honest electoral processes and peaceful honest political dialogue”
Mmmm. Is that their only crime?
I’m also hearing about fresh threats being issued against the Mindanao-based media covering the crime scene, because some people are hurting over the “sensationalized” reporting. Believe me, we don’t even have to try.
The facts are horrific enough.
Mrs President, is that why the reporters were killed? Because their words hurt?
NOTE: On November 27, 2009, I posted this piece below:
A source who personally knows members of the Ampatuan family has just told me this piece of disturbing news:
First, assuming the son Andal Ampatuan Jr. carried out the crime, the son is NOT the mastermind. The son reportedly carried it out on someone else’ orders. The key to finding the mastermind is the back hoe or excavator which had been digging up the killing fields even before Monday’s carnage.
The family decided that for the sake of the family’s political survival, the son would have to surrender to authorities and defend himself before a court of law. The family fully regrets what had happened.
Second, before the mass murder took place Lakas-Kampi Party presidential standard-bearer Gilberto Teodoro had tried to negotiate a political settlement between the Ampatuans and the Mangudadatus. In that meeting, the Ampatuan patriarch Andal Sr. reportedly expressed outrage that his allies the Mangudadatus had refused to concede the governorship to his namesake, otherwise known as “Datu Unsay”.
From what my source told me, I can only conclude that Teodoro knew even then how enraged the old man Ampatuan was.
Teodoro is a decent person. I wish he would disclose what had happened in his consensus-building meeting with the two families, which fell apart and led to Monday’s carnage.
Part 2: Why did GMA treat Ampatuans as rebels, not suspected mass killers? [Or how foreign media grilled top Arroyo officials on the Ampatuan massacre – I included here the actual videos of the grillings from journalists of various wire agencies Reuters, AFP, AP etc.]
Gloria is the worst thief of all. She became billionaire in just 9 years in office and so with her sons and relatives while it took 20 years for Marcos to amass those wealth.
Where is the 9 billion figure taken from?
the wheels of justice are turning. and it grinds exceedingly small
alpa chino says
universal rule: its not what you know…its what you can prove…no exceptions
Mao Na Ni says
I guess most Pinoys don’t get it. It took almost 20 years for the Ampatuans to be the monsters that we know them today. Yes they gave PGMA the presidency, but nobody even bothered to tell the real story behind their power. Fact is, the senior Ampatuan is a wanted man during the time of Marcos. How he became an OIC municipal mayor during Cory’s term, then became RP’s kingmaker during Ramos is something to be looked into. Most people in Mindanao even says that if there were no reporters killed during the massacre, they would still be in power today. I agree to that! Why? Because this was not the only massacre, or killings this people did. But it never really made the national news. As a reporter, better ask yourself that Raissa. We always knew they gave the votes to Gloria. We knew how they gave the last senate seat to Zubiri. But again, media was so deaf and blind. Blame PGMA? The national media is as guilty in this. And it is still happening. In this day of internet, most “national news” are still local Metro Manila area news. People are still being killed in Muslim Mindanao but for some reasons, those news are not heard in the national news. Takot? Really?
Next election, I dare reporters to be present in these areas and televise the news, LIVE! That’s the only way to stop another Ampatuan in the making.
I based my info on the Ampatuans’ political affinities during Martial Law from my interviews with Muslim sources in the MNLF, MILF and outside both rebel groups.
do tell what you based this statement – Fact is, the senior Ampatuan is a wanted man during the time of Marcos – on.
I’m not denying he was appointed OIC municipal mayor during Cory’s time – something which is quite rich in irony since the Interior and Local Governments Secretary who appointed him then was no less than Aquilino Pimentel Jr., father of the cheated Sen. Koko.
You are right in saying that they have long been accused of atrocities. These were spread out through the years. But never 57 at one go.
I am blaming GMA for elevating them to the status of regional warlords. And handing them a lot of money.
YOur dare to reporters, I believe, will be taken up. Don’t you worry.
Now tell me, why do you not want to put the onus on GMA for this?
Don’t be shy. Say you’re a loyalist.
rose cortez says
a very informative one, worth reading…keep up the good work ma’am. we need people like you. God bless
Thank you, Rose.
Pls. read Part 2 – http://raissarobles.com/2011/11/24/part-2-why-did-gma-treat-ampatuans-as-rebels-not-suspected-mass-killers/
i wonder how will fortune and the rest of the legal team of amptuan will celebrate if they will be able to win their case. does earning so much money from legal service for the accused ampatuan worth the legacy of winning the freedom of the deadly perpetrator of the massacre, would fortune feel proud and share to his children ang future grand children the wonders of being a top notch lawyer and say “anak ang galing ng daddy mo, sa wakas napalabas ko na rin sa kulungan ang mga kliyente ko, ang galing galing ko tlga mantakin mo sa daming ng witness at ebidensya, nakaya pa rin ni daddy i over turn due to technicalities of law ang resulta ng paglilitis”. if he can bring back the glory and power of the ampatuans?does the money and the fame so intoxicating to turn our eyes closed in the gory crimes perpetrated by the client?
Ito ang gusto kung makita sa Pinas na si Pnoy ang presidente: Ampatuans make sure they’ll rot in prison, Gloria must be in prison, Drug lords na nasa politics pa (tsk..tsk), mga kurakot na mga politicians, hacienda Luisita at marami pang iba.
elso cabangon says
Thanks Raissa. I just wish Bobi Tiglao, the hopeless GMA lackey, would read this.
senen navarro says
The gov’t should do ala o.j. simpson kind of trial exclusively for this case. I used to watch daily live on tv simpson’s trial. To think that the trial involved just one murder victim, and one suspect, the trial lasted for months. The maguindanao case of 59 murder victims and multiple suspects, would take decades should an oj simpson-like trial will be used. Or maybe lifetime. But since it is unlikely, we may never live to know of the conclusion to this case.