Saturday, December 12, 2009

Revisiting the Maguindanao Massacre

A couple of weeks after the Maguindanao Massacre, many events had already unfolded: martial law has been declared on the province, alleged suspects from the Ampatuan clan and its private army has been detained on police camps; high-powered fire arms and bullet-proof vehicles were discovered and a whole country still awaiting for justice to be served.

Although the administration of Gloria Arroyo is trying its best to be seen as doing its job properly, the heinous crime though has only opened a can of worms, starting to point out at all the efficiencies of the present administration and of the State.

The discovery of so many high-powered weapons, thousands of bullets, armored vehicles and a private army point to serious ills that the government all throughout these years has espoused.

First, most of the high-powered weapons, bullets and combat materials discovered buried of hidden on the properties of the Ampatuans were marked as government properties through the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. We can only therefore think of two reasons why the Ampatuans has stored on its arsenal such a huge quantity of weapons. It could either mean that the Ampatuans are among those political clans who are into the trade of illegal firearms, with a foreign cargo vessel previously been caught by authorities as to engaging on the illegal trade of high-powered weapons on the country; or this development only affirmed the long-standing rumors highlighted by the previous uprising of the young officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines known as the Magdalo soldiers when they holed up on the Oakwood Hotel to expose and denounce the unashamed selling of weapons of the AFP itself to bandits and political clans.

Second, the proliferation of illegal firearms in the country, in this case highlighted by the sponsoring of political clans of private armies and condoned by the national government is a manifestation of a weak State and governance. A government that has resorted to the legalizing and condoning of armed groups by giving them weapons and funding from taxpayer’s money to fight against insurgents or the MILF proves to us that the problem of violence will continue to persist as government leaders chose the temptation of expediency rather than equity, empowerment and development. Violence breeds more violence. And it has been the case for so many years now in many parts of the country especially on some parts of Mindanao that unfortunately has only found the limelight through the death of 57 innocent people. Relying on local warlords to fight a violent war against other armed groups may bring temporary peace but at the same time silently creates bigger monsters. Our government all throughout these years is a weak government, and still cannot find the right ways on how to strengthen it as political survival is still the foremost concern of leaders instead of common good.

Third, the massacre brought into the table the existence of private armies. The government and the people know very well who among the politicians have political armies. But the government has done nothing as these politicians are also serving the personal and political interests of national leaders. Unfortunately, when a place or a province is governed by politicians who rule and gets the support of people through sowing fear and abuse by using private armed groups, all the more that poverty thrives on such a place. Among some places listed with private armies existing are the provinces of Masbate, Maguindanao, Sulu and Lanao. And all these places are included among the country’s top ten poorest provinces.

The third therefore leads to this last issue. Recent news tells us that the government is now contemplating of freezing the properties and bank accounts of the Ampatuans as being suspected of graft and corruption or even of plunder. How in the world will these people get so rich as to putting up mansions all over their province and on many other parts of the country while their constituents are poorer than rats. It is therefore not only political power that politicians such as the Ampatuans benefit from private armies but also the privilege of raiding government coffers without anyone having the guts to question or sue them on the Ombudsman. Of course, this said, not only the Ampatuans are the biggest thieves in the government. Let us not forget the head honcho who condoned their excesses and declared the martial law in Maguindanao.

And once again, all these have happened with the knowledge and consent of the national government and officials from the executive. But it has so far washed its hands like Pontius Pilate trying to fool the people that the GMA administration is trying to put a powerful hand in order to give justice to all the victims while for all we know, all of these are but collusion, manipulation and staged acts. And as Kris Aquino used to say, “We can never can tell”, martial law may become the Christmas gift that we are to receive from the bad old Santa of the Palace.

Image from IndyBay

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jojigirl said...

Ugh! The decadence of corruption stinks making me vomit.

elmot said...

@jojigirl: And this corruption seems to live even after our own lifetime

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