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24 killed in election massacre in the Philippines





tingkagol
A group of 40 people were on their way to file the certificate of candidacy for provincial governor in southern Philippines in behalf of one Ismael Mangudadatu, led by his wife and children, accompanied by journalists. The filing was to be done in Maguindanao, apparently a territory of rival political clan- the Ampatuans. The convoy was ambushed by "100 men in suits" they were then taken to a mountainous area and massacred. Initial suspects involved in the massacre of these people are one of the sons of Ampatuan, and the area police chief.

About 24 are confirmed dead, mostly journalists and women, while the others remain missing.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ha6FJ6JRsaJkvGnvppty2USWW8UAD9C5IL8O0

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8374507.stm


Now this is just so wrong. I loathe political clans- there are several in the surrounding cities/provinces from where I live, but what happened in Maguindanao is just... aggravating.
deanhills
tingkagol wrote:
Now this is just so wrong. I loathe political clans- there are several in the surrounding cities/provinces from where I live, but what happened in Maguindanao is just... aggravating.
Wow, this is just so difficult for me to relate to. I just can't understand where this is coming from. Is there an element of El Qaeda involved in this?
tingkagol
There's the Abu-Sayyaf, an allegedly Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group also located in Southern Philippines, but I doubt they had a hand in this. All portents point to political rivalry.

Some pictures are found here:
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ha6FJ6JRsaJkvGnvppty2USWW8UAD9C67STG0

I'm guessing the massacre was planned long before the filing of candidacy. Nobody could have dug a hole that big in 24 hours.
tingkagol
Body count reaches 57.

Timeline:
http://www.gmanews.tv/story/177821/the-ampatuan-massacre-a-map-and-timeline
deanhills
Has to be a step back for democracy in the Philippines? I wonder what the affect of this will be on voting in the Philippines, especially in areas like this where it is likely that they may be murdered for registering a candidate that is unpopular? I sincerely hope they will find the murderers and give them a very lengthy and public trial.
crimson_aria
this is so sad. killing people.. especially children who don't even know much about the world yet. hope they be given justice.
tingkagol
Obviously this has a lot to say about the state of democracy in the country. Hopefully in light of the current clamor it would hamper plans of other political clans to coerce/intimidate/threaten (or murder) candidates and voters as elections near.

The media is all over the President, saying she "acted too slowly" in apprehending the prime suspect, Andal Ampatuan Jr, since he and his family is allied to her (though the Mangudadatus, the victims, are also allied to her). Mr. Ampatuan surrendered to police almost a week ago, but proclaims he is innocent. Seems to me the general public just wants to see someone crucified as soon as possible- never mind due process, or the suspect's probable innocence. I personally feel the evidence is strong against Mr. Ampatuan, I just hate how the media diverts the story to the President's alleged "slow handling" of the situation, even to the extent of accusing bias to the family. It's a pretty pathetic effort to take more shots at a president who's widely unpopular.
tingkagol
This is getting pretty serious. 4 hours ago, the president has declared martial law in Maguindanao. Almost everyone in the Ampatuan clan have been arrested, including the patriach- Andal Sr. This was brought about by the amassing of armed Ampatuan supporters in the vicinity of the Ampatuan estate, stating rebellion and mitigation of the investigation of the massacre as key reasons of the declaration.

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=529870&publicationSubCategoryId=63
deanhills
Sounds like a move that the Government was forced to take in the circumstances. Do you think the elections are still going to go ahead though?
tingkagol
Seems like it. There's no military takeover of the local government posts, so I think it's going to push through. This is the first martial law declaration since 1986, the ousting of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

I think it was rightfully declared after mounting unrest, and the gov't has been careful not to include MILF territories under its jurisdiction (MILF stands for Moro-Islamic Liberation Front, not what others may think. Smile ). Conservatives and anti-marcos people are going to be complaining about this though since "Martial Law" is synonymous to "Ferdinand Marcos" for most Filipino people. And I don't know when it will be lifted, not probably for a couple of weeks (or maybe even months).
ocalhoun
tingkagol wrote:
(MILF stands for Moro-Islamic Liberation Front, not what others may think. Smile ).

^.^
Acronym fail!
Were I in charge of that organization, I would either rename it, or stress that it should never be abbreviated.
tingkagol
Smile They actually pronounce it with each letter "m-i-l-f", not treating it like a single word. But still...

Anyway, a friend of mine sent me an e-mail of uncensored photos of the victims as they were dug up from the dirt. I can't handle it. I'm queasy and I have a weak stomach when it comes to ogrish-like photos. One picture had a victim's head blown in half (probably from a close-range shotgun blast) with his left eye nearly gouged out of its socket. I've since deleted the email. I just couldn't handle stuff like that. Makes me think how naive I must be, and how this must be just normal fare for most soldiers.

I tried searching for the photos so I could show it to you folks, but only found the one I described above.
WARNING: NASTY CONTENT: http://img268.imageshack.us/img268/6/15368114326627228115462.jpg
deanhills
tingkagol wrote:
I think it was rightfully declared after mounting unrest, and the gov't has been careful not to include MILF territories under its jurisdiction (MILF stands for Moro-Islamic Liberation Front, not what others may think. Smile ).
What does Moro mean? Is this the group that has ties with El Qaeda? Just the name in its own right for me would be sufficient justification for including them in the Martial Law. Terror seems to have the ability to spread like a virus and may activate them as well?
tingkagol
I wouldn't judge them by their name. Smile
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moro_people

Basically there are two Islamic militant groups in southern Philippines, the Abu Sayyaf and the M.I.L.F. Both want a piece of the land to call their own- separate from the government. The MILF are actually a more civilized group compared to the Abu-Sayyaf (who are responsible for multiple kidnappings of civilians and tourists).

Still, conflict between the gov't and these groups has been going on for as long as I can remember- so at some point the gov't realized they can negotiate peace talks with the M.I.L.F. (while the Abu-Sayyaf remains hostile and in hiding in the jungles). Ties remain extremely sensitive, so declaring martial law in MILF territories may spark more problems than solutions. Solving the massacre is top priority for now, and I think the gov't just doesn't want things to get messier than it already is.
deanhills
tingkagol wrote:
Basically there are two Islamic militant groups in southern Philippines, the Abu Sayyaf and the M.I.L.F. Both want a piece of the land to call their own- separate from the government. The MILF are actually a more civilized group compared to the Abu-Sayyaf (who are responsible for multiple kidnappings of civilians and tourists).

Thanks for the link. Looks as though the MILF is a group that is as disenchanted with ongoing corruption as you are, and they wish to establish their own homeland? Which of the two groups is linked to El Qaeda?
tingkagol
The M.I.L.F. denies any ties with Al Qaeda, but there are stories that Osama Bin Laden himself funded the group, and that the MILF sent some volunteers to train in Afghanistan and fight alongside Al Qaeda. I feel this is only mere speculation though. To put it more bluntly, M.I.L.F. is one big denial machine despite numerous stories. In my opinion, they are taking a more neutral stance nowadays believing they can get more fruitful results from negotiations with the gov't as opposed to fighting. They have spokespersons, and are open to peace talks most of the time.

The Abu Sayyaf, however, are a proud terrorist group- admitting to most kidnap-for-ransom incidents mostly targetting foreign priests, and numerous bombings and beheadings in the south. I believe they are the ones who are linked to Al Qaeda, though I don't know if they confirmed this explicitly (that is if they have public affairs spokespeople at all). According to some sources, the brother in-law of bin Laden allegedly funded the group. http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=79205&page=1&page=1

In relation to the massacre, prime suspect Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. accuses the M.I.L.F. for perpetrating the crime. As usual, they deny any involvement. (It is also worth noting that in 2006, the M.I.L.F. allegedly attacked the convoy of Andal Ampatuan Sr. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moro_Islamic_Liberation_Front#History)
deanhills
Thanks for the info about El Qaeda, looks as though they are well set up for training camps in Afghanistan, and quite international, imagine the cost and arrangements for getting the recruits to Afghanistan in the first place. Sounds real scary however for people who want ti visit the Philippines though. Are the terror activities located at a safe distance from the major cities that are usually visited, and which areas in the Philippines do you think visitors should stay away from?
tingkagol
Stay away from the Mindanao region (Maguindanao lies in that region). That's where these groups hide out. The rest of the country though is pretty much terrorist-free.

These terror groups aren't really the seek-and-destroy type like the Al Qaeda. They're more like guard dogs- extremely territorial and will bite if you get too close.
deanhills
I checked up on the Map, being totally unfamiliar with the geography of the Philippines, and never realized how much of a conglomerate of Islands it really is. Manila seems to be very safely ensconsed in the far North, how on earth does the Government get its troops to a far outlying place such as Mindanao and why don't they just give Mindanao to the people who feel so territorial about it? I also noted in a different map that some of the very smaller islets to the West of Mindanao are also claimed by the people of Mindanao, and they are quite close to Malaysia? Is there a link between the two countries with regard to Mindanao? Is there something of strategic value in Mindanao for the Philippines?
tingkagol
deanhills wrote:
how on earth does the Government get its troops to a far outlying place such as Mindanao and why don't they just give Mindanao to the people who feel so territorial about it?

There are already hundreds of soldiers deployed to Mindanao (practically "perpetually") to defend cities against attacks (most are still operating under the Phil. gov't), and to hunt down the Abu Sayyaf. So in the case of the massacre, it's just a matter of raining down the available battallions on Maguindanao.

With regards to having their own territory, apparently there's already a region "given" to these groups (the ARMM), though I feel they haven't fully acknowledged this. The M.I.L.F. seems to be lukewarm about it, while the Abu Sayyaf continues to do what it does best- it makes me think the latter's true purpose is nothing more than to make a living and profit from terrorist activities as opposed to "having a land to call their own". On the other hand, the MILF seems to want more territory.

I'm confused myself as I read that wikipedia article about ARMM. If Maguindanao is included in that region, why is the government operating in it? Gray areas all over.

deanhills wrote:
some of the very smaller islets to the West of Mindanao are also claimed by the people of Mindanao, and they are quite close to Malaysia?

Most muslims probably come from Malaysia, though I don't see anything suspicious about it.
tingkagol
There's been talk that there were more killings way before the massacre- one involved 200 victims killed by chainsaw.
http://www.gmanews.tv/story/178900/from-backhoe-to-chainsaw-probe-set-for-200-more-maguindanao-killings

I don't know if the stories are true, but I won't be surprised.
tingkagol
Ok, it's official. Mindanao is currently a complete mess.

57 people held hostage by rebels (coincidentally the same number of people who died in the massacre)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/10/AR2009121000528.html
deanhills
tingkagol wrote:
Ok, it's official. Mindanao is currently a complete mess.

57 people held hostage by rebels (coincidentally the same number of people who died in the massacre)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/10/AR2009121000528.html

I wonder about the timing, right around election time? Do you think this is to torpedo the elections, as it looks as though the Philippines may have a civil war coming? I still wonder how one can have free elections when there is martial law?
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