Interfaith group calls on the Moro and non-Moro masses to unite and defeat the culture of impunity

Nov. 30, 2009

The Moro-Christian People’s Alliance (MCPA), a national interfaith organization advocating for the recognition of the Bangsamoro people’s struggle for land and right to self-determination, extends its deepest sympathy to the families and relatives of the victims of the mass murder in Maguindanao.

The MCPA holds the Arroyo regime accountable for the mass killing of more than 50 people including women, lawyers and media practitioners in Maguindanao last November 23.  It is highly outrageous that the massacre happened in broad daylight and in a place where there is a strong military and police presence.

The province of Maguindanao, a province in the poorest and underdeveloped Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in southern Philippines, has long been in the grip of the feared and untouchable warlord Ampatuan clan, suspected perpetrator of the mass murder.

Despite having been accused as corrupt, land grabber and responsible for the many documented and undocumented serious cases of human rights violations in Maguindanao, the Ampatuans enjoy the political support of President Arroyo. The Ampatuan’s notorious private armies are being coddled by the AFP and the PNP and are allied forces in the counterinsurgency campaign in the province.

The forcible abduction and mass killing of a group of people composed of majority women, media and human rights defenders in the Ampatuan-controlled Maguindanao who wished to exercise their democratic rights and fundamental freedoms, was clear indication of the deepening culture of impunity that is being promoted under President Arroyo’s fascist rule.

The big number of women victims in the Maguindanao massacre likewise showed one and all that having a woman President does not guarantee safety and protection for women. In war-torn Mindanao, the Bangsamoro women suffer the most serious forms of human rights violations such as internal displacement, rape and killings.

The Maguindanao massacre is not an isolated incident.  Nor it will be the last gruesome crime to happen in Mindanao. The prevailing culture of impunity will breed more Ampatuans; political warlords who will ensure and safeguard Arroyo’s hold to power in extremely vicious ways and forms.

MCPA demands no less than President Arroyo to render swift justice to the victims of the Maguindanao massacre and urgently takes on the following actions:

1.      Pull out all the AFP and PNP forces assigned in Maguindanao at the time of the massacre and relieve their respective commanding officers;

2.      Disarm the Ampatuan clan’s private army;

3.      Order the DILG to suspend the Ampatuans from their government positions and responsibilities while investigations on the massacre are ongoing; and

4.      Allow independent national and international investigation/fact-finding missions on the incident and guarantee the safety and security of the participants.

Finally, MCPA calls on the Moro and non-Moro masses to unite and stand in solidarity with the victims of the Maguindanao massacre and all victims of the culture of impunity.  The culture of impunity is a vicious attack on the people’s civil and political rights.  It must be stopped.  It must be defeated.

For reference:

Antonio Liongson

National coordinator

Human rights program

Moro-Christian People’s Alliance

Mobile phone number: 0915-284-4654

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