Posted by: JWP | 11/23/2009

First exclusive video of site of Maguindanao massacre

Philippines readies arrests after 24 killed

AP: By HRVOJE HRANJSKI, Associated Press Writer

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine authorities promised Tuesday to make arrests in the country’s worst election massacre, which left at least 24 people dead and more than a dozen missing after gunmen ambushed a candidate’s caravan in a region notorious for clan violence.

Troops were finding a couple of bodies every hour or so, and officials were still trying to get the exact number of family members, political supporters and journalists who were intercepted by about 100 gunmen Monday and taken to a remote mountainous area, said Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno.

“We’re hopeful that some people escaped, and we’re hoping to find them alive,” he said.

Police said the convoy of about 40 people was going to register Ismael Mangudadatu, vice mayor of Buluan township, to run for provincial governor when they were stopped.

Soldiers and police later found 24 bodies, including those of Mangudadatu’s wife, Genalyn, and his two sisters, sprawled on the ground or shot in their vehicles about three miles (five kilometers) from where they were ambushed, police spokesman Leonardo Espina said.

Mangudadatu said Tuesday that four witnesses had told him the caravan was stopped by gunmen loyal to his fierce political rival and the current governor of Maguindanao province, Andal Ampatuan Jr. He refused to name the witnesses or offer other details.

“It was really planned because they had already dug a huge hole (for the bodies),” Mangudadatu said. more


Amid the fighting, the clan rules in Maguindanao



Andal Ampatuan has four wives and over 30 children, and intermarriages with other political clans have made his political stock stronger. But political analysts trace the clan’s formidable clout to two main factors: guns and the blessings of Malacanang. They even note that no less than the Palace made it legal for the Ampatuans to have hundreds of armed men and women under their employ.

The 1987 Constitution bans private armed groups. In July 2006, however, the Arroyo administration issued Executive Order 546, allowing local officials and the PNP to deputize barangay tanods as “force multipliers” in the fight against insurgents. In practice, the EO allows local officials to convert their private armed groups into legal entities with a fancy name: civilian volunteer organizations (CVO). more

Why am I not surprise that Arroyo is partly to blame…

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