Four days have passed by yet no Maguindanao massacre suspect has been apprehended by the authorities in the brutal killing of some 57 people. Malacanang said it will not order relief and arrest to Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr., mayor of the town of Datu Unsay in Maguindanao suspected as one of those involved and allegedly spearheaded the massacre of women, journalists, and innocent people unless a criminal case is filed against him in court.
Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said that the relief and arrest of Ampatuan Jr. will come only after the police have found sufficient evidence that would link him to the brutal killings of more than 50 people in the Ampatuan town of Maguindanao. Of course he (Remonde) acknowledges that said incident is a big embarrassment to the country and more than anything else’s to the administration of president Arroyo. But according to him there is a “due process to be observed also.”
Of course under our system of laws there must be a due process to be observed; and so before the government could act to apprehend/arrest those who murdered innocent people there must be a thorough investigation to be made backed up by sufficient evidences. But the world is waiting for result! The world is already urging the Arroyo’s administration to run after her allies who have been linked to the massacre.
But the Commission on Human Rights sees something disturbing the way this massacre case is being resolved. “I also observed that there is an unusual treatment. If you’re an ordinary suspect and there is a lead and information [of your supposed involvement] you will be immediately invited,” commissioner Leila de Lima said. According to her the government should “heed to the public’s clamor of swift and decisive action against the killers and the masterminds (the Ampatuans?) in the massacre.”
But before world’s can thunderously voice it’s condemnation to this dastardly act of barbarism, president Arroyo already declared the Provinces of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, and Cotabato City under state of Emergency. She also declared a national day of mourning last Wednesday “appalled and outraged” by the slaughter of innocent civilians. Earlier she ordered the police and the military to run after the perpetrators of this crime, and no sacred cows (not even her closest allies–the Ampatuans) will be spared. On the other hand she also called for sobriety. “I understand only too well the volatility of the political situation in the area, and for this reason, I reiterate with even greater urgency my personal appeal for calm and restraint,” Madam Arroyo said.
So far Malacanang has already condoled with the family of the victims particularly the Mangagdadatus who have suffered most in this massacre particularly the wife and relatives of Buluian vice-mayor Ismael Mangagdadatu. The Mangagdadatus however express to the media their resolve not to seek vengeance further complicating the peace and order situation in the area. They leave everything to God and to the Arroyo government to resolve the crime. The police already tagged mayor Andal Ampatuan jr. a member of the Arroyo’s ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD coalition; and the son of an extremely powerful politician in the ARMM Region who provided local support and ensured victory for president Arroyo in the past elections.
In fact it has been reported that “Emissaries from Malacañang and the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD party offered the Mangudadatus several posts in government to avoid a clash with the Ampatuans in the upcoming polls in May 2010,” however Buluan vice mayor Esmael Mangagdadatu turned them down.
As an aftermath of the massacre, “the ruling Lakas Kampi CMD party has expelled the Ampatuan clan’s head and 2 sons from their fold.” Gilbert Teodoro, presidential aspirant and party chairman told in a press conference last Wednesday “We unanimously decided to expel from the party the following, Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., governor of Maguindanao and the chairman of Lakas-Kampi CMD of that province; Governor Zaldy Uy Ampatuan, ARMM governor and Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. They are no longer considered as members of Lakas-Kampi CMD.” A good move but will this improve his (Teodoro’s) popularity rating as a presidential aspirant?
Why is Malacanang so careful in handling the massacre case? First madam Arroyo can not ignore both national and international calls for her to run after the Ampatuans. But the Ampatuans know so many things about local support they have provided her to win during the 2004 presidential elections. And there is this public notion that the Ampatuans will sing/bear the truth behind the “hello Garci” scandal which up to now is still a nightmare to the Arroyo’s administration.
This administration, already in it’s last days, can no longer afford somebody singing “My Way” again as related to cheating in a presidential election. As there have been reported cases of violence in the past by the mere singing of My Way in karaoke bars, madam Gloria does not want Gibo’s presidential bid to die as well. But Gibo already made a move of expelling Ampatuan clan in the Lakas-Kampi-CMD party. Is this going to be of his disadvantage or disadvantage should the suspects sing about their “way” during the past elections? And Maguindanao’s solid vote for Gibo is no longer there for him?
Update: Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. has already turned himself to the authorities. Presidential Adviser on Mindanao Affairs Jesus Dureza will also turn him over to Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera. Mayor Andal maintains his innocence to the massacre.