Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tribute to the Massacred Journalists in Maguindanao

This is a reprint of today's article of Patricia Evangelista of Philippine Daily Inquirer and Executive Producer of ANC's StoryLine.

Method To Madness

By Patricia Evangelista
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:25:00 11/28/2009

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Crime, Elections, Election Violence, Maguindanao Massacre, Family

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines—This is a story about death in a place they call the Promised Land, where the heat punches with a sweaty fist, and a crescent moon rises with the Christian sun.

It happened on a lonely hill in a quiet town, where every bridge is a checkpoint manned by young men in fatigues. Esmael Mangudadatu, Buluan vice mayor, threatened with violence, sending his wife Genalyn, his sister, his nieces and his lawyers to file his certificate of candidacy because he believed women would be safe. Esmael Mangudadatu, inviting a pack of journalists to cover the event, because he believed his family would be safe where the media were. Esmael Mangudadatu, answering the last phone call from a wife who told him they had been stopped by Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr.’s private army.

Witnesses say they heard the gunshots. “Ra-ta-ta-ta-tat,” says the barefoot man with the face browned by sun. He heard it, at ten in the morning. Ra-ta-ta-ta-tat. He says it did not last long.

A road, winding past clapboard carwashes and houses of crosshatched palm, bamboo fences trailing soft pink blossoms. A sky, blue, sweeping over sprawling green. A cliff-side, under a yellow sun. This is where they were found, men and women, Mangudadatu’s caravan of untouchables, bleeding into the dry earth, some still sitting inside the white vans with doors flung open. One by one, the others are dug out of a great gaping pit. Bodies, buried in tiers six deep, bloated huge and white, shirts browned by blood, pants bunched at the knees, faces like mashed clay. They unearth a UNTV van, a red Toyota Vios, a crumpled Tamaraw FX. The investigators offer what dignity they can. Newspapers are laid over faces, over crotches, over dirt-encrusted stomachs swollen to the size of overripe watermelons. Some of the dead once wrote for the papers covering their heads.

The flies flock over the bodies. A young man from UNTV stands over the six new corpses. He is looking for his friends, he says. When he finds them, he steps back and watches a drinking buddy wrapped in sheets of red plastic, secured by masking tape, hauled up on a stretcher. The smell of dead stretches down the hill. A backhoe sits at the bottom, one long arm stamped with “Province of Maguindanao.”

Witnesses say they saw armed men, more than 50, walking down the hill, off to the direction of Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao’s provincial capital—where the sprawling peach-and-pink mansions of Andal Ampatuan Sr. and his son Andal Jr. face each other on a street littered with soldiers, on the same street of the enormous peach-and-pink capitol building. It was the capitol where Presidential Adviser for Mindanao Jesus Dureza landed his two helicopters to pick up Andal Jr., the same Dureza who waited for Andal Jr. to “voluntarily come in for questioning.” Of the Ampatuans, Presidential Spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo says that “just because they’re in this situation doesn’t mean we will turn our backs on them,” as if this government has ever had any compunction about turning its back on allies. This is what an “appalled and outraged” president does when the last democratic institution is gunned down on a public road: she offers government helicopters and permits a suspect to ride a private plane, allows evidence to disappear while suspects twirl their guns, lets her executive secretary appeal to suspected murderers to “surrender to authorities” instead of insisting they be ripped out of their holes, and then she expects the nation to applaud her like her moronic deputies.

Fifty-seven (according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines) were murdered last Monday. Thirty of them belonged to the media, 30 men and women whose presence in this benighted country has become the one assurance that the worst will not happen. No guns will be drawn while a camera rolls, but even that safety is gone. Not once in the history of journalism has carnage like this happened to so many. There are no more rules, no lines left to cross. The government would like to give Andal Jr. his dignity, they want to make sure he is treated fairly, they trip over their own tangled lies for his sake. And yet there was no dignity left in the men and women found bloated and half-naked in Sitio Masalay, stripped of notebook and camera and wallet, stripped of face and name, until some unfortunate daughter recognizes Papa’s shirt or Mama’s pants.

Remember their names. Benjie Adolfo, Gold Star Daily. Henry Araneta, Radio dzRH. Mark Gilbert “Mac-Mac” Arriola, UNTV. Rubello Bataluna, Gold Star Daily. Arturo Betia, Periodico Ini. Romeo Jimmy Cabillo, Midland Review. Marites Cablitas, News Focus. Hannibal Cachuela, Punto News. John Caniban, Periodico Ini. Lea Dalmacio, Socsargen News. Noel Decina, Periodico Ini. Gina Dela Cruz, Saksi News, General Santos City. Eugene Dohillo, UNTV. Jhoy Duhay, Gold Star Daily. Santos Gatchalian, dxGO. Bienvenido Legarte Jr., Prontiera News. Lindo Lupogan, Mindanao Daily Gazette. Ernesto “Bart” Maravilla, Bombo Radyo. Rey Merisco, Periodico Ini, Koronadal City. Reynaldo “Bebot” Momay, Midland Review. Marife “Neneng” Montaño, Saksi News. Rosell Morales, News Focus. Victor Nuñez, UNTV. Ronnie Perante, Gold Star Daily. Joel Parcon, Prontiera News. Fernando “Rani” Razon, Periodico Ini. Alejandro “Bong” Reblando, Manila Bulletin. Napoleon Salaysay, Mindanao Gazette. Ian Subang, Socsargen Today. Andres “Andy” Teodoro, Central Mindanao Inquirer.

There were threats against the media in the days after the massacre. But on the day they ripped swollen bodies out of Ampatuan soil, there were photojournalists lining the crest of the cliff like an honor guard, long lenses glinting in the sun. There was a cameraman who stepped away from a tripod to wipe away tears, a veteran in an orange hat with an arm around an orphan. It was both tribute and promise.

This is what the men who fired those machine guns last Monday did not know: that there is no journalist today who will not stand for those who were lost. Remember what happened here, on a lonely hill in a quiet town, where a blue sky sweeps over sprawling green. Remember Ampatuan, and remember their names.

* * *

This piece could not have been written without the generosity and support of the following people: Carol Arguillas, Mindanews, Rowena Paraan and Nonoy Espina of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, and Romel Bagares of CenterLaw Philippines. Many, many thanks.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Continuing Maguindanao Massacre/ and GLORIA Watch

“I don’t think the President’s friendship with the Ampatuans will be severed,” Deputy Spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo said. “Just because they are in this situation doesn’t mean we will turn our backs on them.” As if that weren’t enough assurance, she added, “it doesn’t mean that they are no longer our friends, if ever they indeed committed the crime.” (from the Phil. Daily Inquirer)

Is this woman clueless, crazy or what? Or is Fajardo really being honest and is telling us what Gloria really feels?

The newspapers and TV stations have reported that finally, the almost 400 civilian volunteers/private army of the Ampatuans ha
ve been de-activated and their firearms seized. But what kind of firearms was the government able to retrieve? Where are the high-powered firearms? Di man lang nagtaka ang militar kung bakit eto iyong mga firearms. Parang iyong mga garand and springfield rifles na ginamit namin sa ROTC noong 70s pa ito.

Back to Gloria. It's also in the news that Lilia Pineda has confirmed that Gloria will be filing her candidacy for congresswoman of the 2nd district of Pampanga. Who's Lilia Pineda? (My God, what have you been jueteng for?). Here are some comments I also got from the news:

“It will be such a waste if the President withdraws from public service. She has the experience and has established connections abroad that can be used to benefit Pampanga,” Lilia Pineda said.

Speaker Prospero Nograles said President Arroyo’s decision to seek a congressional seat was widely expected. “She has made a decision and that was predictable. Going back to your roots,” he said.

"if she decides to run, it would be to serve the people, not protect herself,” said REMONDE referring to suspicions that bagging a congressional seat would make her immune from lawsuits that may arise after she steps down. (Oh Yeah? Face the mirror and repeat what you said.)Grabe na ito! What kind of person is GMA? Let's see on Monday, if indeed she'll file her COC.

(Quotes from the persons mentioned were taken from today's issue of Phil. Daily Inquirer).

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Friday, November 27, 2009


Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. is now detained at the NBI headquarters in Metro Manila. This shouldn't stop us from hounding GLORIA. We are not assured if there will be a white wash of this case. Probably without the strong pressure from various groups in the Philippines and in the global community, the authorities would not have touched the Ampatuans. Andal wasn't even handcupped, only escorted by Dureza. And what's the drama that Dureza and Ampatuan are saying - that the chopper they were boarding were fired upon? Probably to fit into Andal's claim that the massacre was the work of the MILF.

Why only Andal Jr., what about the Sr.?

How did Gloria spend the National Day of Mourning? In fervent prayers? Like .....

(I grabbed the photos from the Professional Heckler's blogsite.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009


Listen to the President's Men and Woman

(from the Phil.Daily Inquirer report of Christine Avendano)

They Might Fight Back - Raul Gonzalez, Presidential Legal Counsel
Secretary Raul Gonzalez, chief presidential legal counsel, cautioned the government against hastily arresting the Ampatuans in the absence of solid evidence.

“If we use the iron hand on them, they might fight back. We should take precaution. These are not ordinary people,” he said by phone.

“We’re guided by the rule of evidence, not by emotions. Suspicions, accusations are not synonymous with guilt,” he added.

Gonzalez said that the Maguindanao provincial government-owned backhoe found in the crime scene was a “circumstantial evidence” against the Ampatuans.

“But you can’t convict somebody with one circumstantial evidence,” said the former justice secretary.

People Should be Given Equal Protection of the Law - Exec Sec Ermita

Asked about the criticism, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita told reporters that Mayor Ampatuan and his followers should turn themselves in for investigation.

“It definitely will help if those who feel that they are already being considered as suspect for them to turn themselves in and cooperate with the law enforcement agencies,” Ermita said in a briefing.

“To prove they’re innocent, they should give themselves up rather than go against the law by not turning themselves in,” he said, adding that this will help defuse the situation.

Ermita dismissed claims that the Ampatuan clan, which delivered votes for Ms Arroyo in the 2004 presidential vote, was “untouchable.”

“I don’t see why they should be considered untouchable. People should be given equal protection of the law,” he said.

Ermita said the public should await the action of Dureza’s team. He said the team would “identify those that will have to be summoned, or that will be subject of the order for them to be disarmed, to be taken into custody or against whom a warrant of arrest will be issued or charges will be filed.” (So not one of the Ampatuans has been summoned!)

No Evidence of Rape... no Beheading - Sec of Justice Devanadera (ex-future Supreme Court Justice, former mayor of the smallest town in Quezon)

Acting Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera told reporters Wednesday after a visit to the troubled region that state lawyers and prosecutors were still gathering evidence.

“I ask for more time to evaluate (the evidence),” she said. “So far there’s no evidence of rape. There was also no beheading.” (o ano iyong pinagsasabi niyong gruesome o heinous, wala namang na-rape a)

"They (Ampatuans) committed to submit themselves to any investigation - Presidential Adviser Jesus Dureza (Instead of summons, it was Dureza who "visited" the Ampatuans.)

Dureza met with the Ampatuans in Shariff Aguak town in Maguindanao on Tuesday afternoon.

“They committed to submit themselves to any investigation,” Dureza told the Inquirer by phone.

The meeting, held at the Ampatuan residence in Shariff Aguak, was attended by Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), his younger brother Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Jr. and the family patriarch, Governor Ampatuan.

But Dureza said he did not ask if indeed Mayor Ampatuan led the killers. “I went there to tell them about the creation of the crisis management committee, and about the investigation,” he said.


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Wednesday, November 25, 2009






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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Get-together for Bing and Bert's advance Birthday Blow-out

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Dear Toti,  I had a wonderful time meeting old friends!   It was a very short meeting as Tess and Alot had to go back to work but it was great seeing all of them even for a short while. Lena and I hitched a ride with Marynat and we had a wonderful time reminiscing about the good old days! We left Nemia and Bert at the restaurant. I wonder if Nemia was waiting for us coz we didn't go back to the resto after going to the restroom?????  Bert was such a gallant and generous person and treated us all for lunch. That was really a treat for me because I once again tasted good Filipino dishes.  Attached are some of the pictures taken for you to post. Make sure beauty lahat kaming girls, ok?  Warm regards, Bing
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RP’s Efren Peñaflorida is 2009 CNN Hero of the Year - Nation - GMANews.TV - Official Website of GMA News and Public Affairs - Latest Philippine News

RP’s Efren Peñaflorida is 2009 CNN Hero of the Year - Nation - GMANews.TV - Official Website of GMA News and Public Affairs - Latest Philippine News

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Congratulations Efren Penaflorida!

I think it was Ed C who sent the message asking us to vote for him. I did!
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You're the Greatest!



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