Lame duck President Gloria Arroyo released a statement on the very gruesome Maguindanao massacre…the very massacre that led the International Federation of Journalists to declare that the Philippines is the most dangerous place for journalists to work in. Yep, after Efren Penaflorida’s triumph as CNN Hero of the Year and after Mindanao Manny Pacquiao’s 7th world title, the Philippines is again hogging headlines. And sadly, Mindanao is at the center of it all.
I can’t quite point a finger to it…I don’t know but I feel icky whenever I read this so-called “press statement.” Maybe because the government hasn’t done a thing ever since this entire brutality took place. Or maybe because all of PGMA’s mouthpieces have only exercised lip service and nothing else. Or maybe because I am just too angry and bitter and sad and disappointed about this.
The gruesome killings in Maguindanao constitute a most heinous crime. What makes it particularly so is the fact that it counts among its victims, lawyers, media reporters, and other defenseless and innocent civilians. Like many others. I am appalled and outraged by it, and I join the rising chorus of indignation against it.
This is not a simple election feud between opposing clans; this is a supreme act of inhumanity that is blight on our nation.
Elections are supposed to be civil and decent contests for political leadership at different levels of government. They are supposed to be avenues for political renewal in a democratic order. But when they are marred by violence, they mutate into occasions for demonstrating brute power, unrestrained by civility.
I deeply commiserate with the kith and kin of the victims. I grieve the irretrievable loss of innocent lives. That loss, unbearable as it is, should now move us to fight those forces that thrive in violence and erode the integrity of elections in our country.
The perpetrators will not escape justice. The law will haunt them until they are caught.
No citizen of our nation should ever have to fear for his or her life in the free expression of political will. That these victims were brutally struck down while merely exercising their right to political freedom must be condemned by people everywhere.
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.
I am declaring a national day of mourning in honor of the victims. This crime is too outrageous not to prick the conscience of this nation or any other nation for that matter. Let us hope that the outrage is overcome by reason and by our need to live our lives in peace, honor and human dignity.
On my instructions, the Secretaries of the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Department of Justice are now in the area to directly lead in the immediate resolution of this case.
Be assured that our police and military forces are actively restoring normalcy in the area, and the national prosecution offices under the Justice Department are undertaking all the appropriate processes for the expeditious resolution of this crime.
In all this, the rule of law, the guarantee of equal protection under and equal application of the law, and the observance of due process and all legal processes, shall prevail. Let the full force of the law bear upon those who are found to be responsible for this offense and be made accountable for their acts. (PND)
Mindanaoan is a multi-awarded blogger, content creator, seasoned social media strategist and publicist with undeniably successful track record. 2012 International Visitor Leadership Program (for global leaders) alumnus and O visa grantee (for people with extraordinary skills and who have risen to the top of their field). Avid traveler and a proud relief operations volunteer. Regular resource person for social media, blogging and content creation. Available for work and travel – [email protected]