Remembering the Massacre at Maguindanao

Two years ago, 58 people were brutally killed in the province of Maguindanao. It doesn’t matter whether 32 journalists were included in the massacre. Their murder was political. It was brutal, and unthinkable. And it was mass murder that shattered talismans.

Report of the humanitarian and fact-finding mission to Maguindanao pointed to the Ampatuans. And the story laid out by the fact-finding mission reveals a sad unthinkable truth. Evidence were poorly handled, and the site was contaminated. Remains were poorly looked after. The investigation favored testimonial evidence rather than physical evidence. The convoy was stopped 300 meters away from a Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit camp. Suspect vehicles still unaccounted for. People in the area feared for their lives. The Ampatuans held a weapons cache that were not fully confiscated. The road where the massacre happened lead to the spot where bodies were buried. Whether Ampatuan or Mangudadatus, both were armed. And the missing remain.

These facts point to an unspeakable truth about the Maguindanao Massacre. Martial Law imposed by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the time may have adversely aggravate the search for justice rather than helped it along. All roads leading to justice for the victims is a treacherous, dangerous one riddled with minefield.

Maguindanao is a constant reminder of what is it like on the fringes of civilization. It is a reminder of what the law is, and what it stands for out there in the boondocks of our frontier. In two years, it mattered little. Not much has changed, because not too much can change. It too is evidence that Autonomous Mindanao can not exist. At least not yet because the safeguard against this kind of abuse isn’t in place. There is much incapacity in the area, where the rich and powerful become de facto lords. It is medieval.

The mass murder at Maguindanao is a starling reminder of how broken our Republic is. It doesn’t matter if the people who died there were journalists. It doesn’t matter if the people who died there were carrying documents so a Mangudadatus could run for public office. What matters is that 58 people were brutally slaughtered like animals. What matters is how little in this nation we value life. What matters is that violence such as this must never, ever be repeated. What matters is this. The thirst for justice must be quenched, and the blood spilled make our Republic stronger.

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