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Press statement: Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao on Maguindanao massacre

The Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) condemns in the strongest possible terms the brutal murder of scores of civilians in Datu Abdullah Sangki town in Maguindanaoin, a bloody start for the 2010 elections. Among the hapless victims were UPLM treasurer Concepcion “Connie” Brizuela and UPLM member Cynthia Oquendo.

Authorities claimed the victims were reportedly abducted by some 100 armed. They were accompanying the wife of Buluan Vice Mayor Ishmael “Toto” Mangudadatu , Genalyn, whose group was on their way to file her husband’s certificate of candidacy for Maguindanao governor at the Commission on Elections office in Shariff Aguak town, Maguindanao.

This barbaric mass murder not only indicates the early onset of pre-election violence, but, also shows that the culture of impunity clearly pervades with the existence of warlord-maintained private armies that have long been tolerated by the government, past and present. Considering their proximity to the present occupants of Malacañang, these warlords, as well as their henchmen, certainly believe that they can get away with cold-blooded mass murder.

It is doubly condemnable that among the latest victims were journalists and lawyers, who have been in the line of fire because of their commitment to their respective profession. Sadly, the names of Atty. Brizuela and Atty. Oquendo will be added to the long list of victims of extra-judicial killings under the present administration.

The UPLM demands that justice be served on the victims, particularly to our colleagues, Attys. Brizuela and Oquendo. We demand that the Arroyo administration throws the full force of the government to bring the perpetrators, regardless of their affiliations, to the bar of justice.

Atty. Carlos Isagani Zarate
Secretary General

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