Press Statement

 November 23, 2009

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) condemns in the strongest terms the recent election-related violence in Maguindanao province which claimed the lives of 36 people, including members of the Mangundadatu family, their supporters and staff, 2 lawyers and several journalists. The abduction and killings were so brazen that it has shocked everyone, even those in Malacanang. The massacre was indiscriminate and was carried out with utter disregard for the law by apparently powerful and influential forces. We condemn in particular the killing of women, lawyers and journalists.

A swift and impartial probe must now be conducted and the perpetrators of this heinous crime must be brought to justice. The full force of the law must be made to bear on the killers.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo must not let her political association with the Ampatuan family stand in the way of a speedy and impartial investigation into the incident. The national government must step in and enforce the law since the local police is not likely capable of conducting an impartial probe or may be vulnerable to pressure by the powerful political families in the province.

We support the call for the disarmament and dismantling of private militias in the area which have long existed but have been seemingly tolerated by the government. The national government can no longer turn a blind eye to the long-standing problem of warlordism and violence in the province.

Those public officials being linked to the killings must now be relieved or must take a leave of absence in order to give way to an impartial probe. The Philippine National Police leadership in the province should also be relieved.

Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner was quoted as saying the 100 men who staged the abduction were allegedly led by Mayor Datu Unsay Ampatuan and one Police Senior Inspector Dicay of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Shariff Aguak. This serious allegation involving local government and police officials should also be looked into.