Maguindanao Massacre Essay Example
Maguindanao Massacre Essay Example

Maguindanao Massacre Essay Example

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  • Pages: 11 (2834 words)
  • Published: September 21, 2017
  • Type: Essay
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On November 23, 2009, a significant and controversial event took place in Cotabato. This day brought darkness and fear to the city as numerous innocent people were executed by those desperate for power. Even in a country used to election violence, this massacre of at least 57 defenseless civilians on Mindanao Island was unprecedented. The victims included relatives and supporters of a local politician, as well as a large group of journalists. This tragic event shed light on the nationwide unease caused by intense competition for regional power among the country's small elite - influential families who control an unfair share of national wealth. The lengths these individuals will go to maintain their hold on power is distressing. These brutal killings, which occurred four years ago, have yet to be resolved. They involve the merciless murder of 57 individuals who were about to


begin campaigning for former governor Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu in Cotabato. This incident coincided with Mangudadatu's wife submitting his Certificate of Candidacy for his gubernatorial bid. A convoy accompanied by local journalists headed towards the Commission on Election office in Shariff Aguak municipality during this time.
The journalists were intrigued by the unprecedented occurrence of an adult male challenging an Ampatuan in a race for a position, which presented a significant challenge to the influential Ampatuan political family. This family was backing Andal Ampatuan Jr., the son of the current governor, in his bid for governorship. However, on their way to the Comelec office, local police officers, soldiers, and paramilitary forces blocked the group's path under orders from Andal Ampatuan Sr., the incumbent governor and head of the Ampatuans, and his son Andal Jr.,

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with the intention to kill them. The victims were executed at a brow and their bodies, along with their vehicles, were buried in a mass grave as an effort to conceal their location. This gruesome incident clearly challenges the country's justice system. Currently, 196 suspects are facing 57 counts of murder each for the 57 victims at trial in Metro Manila's Regional Trial Court (RTC). Unfortunately, one journalist's body crucial for prosecuting this murder case has not been found yet. Over 500 unidentified individuals referred to as "John Does" also face felony charges. Out of these 196 suspects, 93 have been arrested; however three claim they were wrongfully detained instead of being accused rightfully. Among those custody is also another group consisting of 29 suspects who are yet to be brought before open court for arraignment.
Note: have not been included while as per your instructionsThe National Prosecution Service, which is the prosecution arm of the Department of Justice, has taken over two months to file 57 murder charges against the suspects. This delay in filing has caused a postponement in the start of the trial. Although the prosecution body followed the legal requirement to complete preliminary investigations within a specified timeframe, it has faced difficulties in ensuring an effective remedy. The Philippine National Police's failure to apprehend the remaining 103 suspects who are still at large has further prolonged the trial process.

Each accused individual must go through separate proceedings in court for arraignment, trial, and examination to determine their criminal liability, despite all being charged with murder as part of a single incident. The defendants have the opportunity to challenge the validity of

their case by submitting requests and motions in court. These requests can involve having their names removed from the murder charges or even having the entire case dismissed based on its merits. However, it's important to note that not all requests and motions filed by suspects are made sincerely or in good faith. Some powerful political figures involved in this particular case have used these means as deliberate tactics to intentionally delay the trial.

Currently, there are still 29 suspects who have not yet been brought to trial, including Zaldy Ampatuan, former governor of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and son of Andal Sr., another key figure in this case.According to section 6 of the Speedy Trial Act of 1998, the trial period in criminal cases should not exceed 180 days from the first day of trial. However, four out of the seven exclusions specified in section 10 of the same law have rendered this provision ineffective in this particular case. These exclusions pertain to delays caused by hearings on charges against the accused, interlocutory appeals, hearings on pretrial motions regarding suppression orders or change of venue, determination of a valid prejudicial question, and absence or unavailability of either the accused or an essential witness. The domestic jurisprudence justifiably supports this stance. Nonetheless, I argue that the broad exclusions outlined in the Speedy Trial Act have violated both constitutional rights belonging to both the accused and plaintiffs. The lack of equitable legal provisions for thoroughly evaluating requests and motions filed by suspects has exposed potential vulnerabilities within the court system. The suspects have submitted numerous legally justified requests and motions under the "exclusions" clause stated in

the Speedy Trial Act. Despite conducting three hearings per week for over a year, there is no indication as to when a resolution will be reached regarding the slaughter case.Attorney Harry Roque's statement regarding the lengthy duration of the trial, where each of the 196 suspects faces charges of 57 counts of murder, is not an exaggeration. This is due to a study showing that it takes five years to complete one case in the Philippines. I firmly argue that subdivision 10 of the Speedy Trial Act does not adhere to international norms and standards as it allows for exceptions that cause delays in case trials, ultimately depriving individuals of an "effective remedy". Although domestic laws and procedures exist to protect these rights, they do not align with international law. Instead, domestic law has diminished significant rights to only procedural ones. The UN Human Rights Committee previously found the Philippines in violation of its obligations under the Covenant by failing to ensure "effective remedies" at a national level. In their stance on Evangeline Hernandez v The Philippines (Communication No.1559/2007, positions adopted on 26 July 2010, UN Doc.CCPR/C/99/D/1559/2007), the Committee concluded that there was a violation of article 6 and also article 2 paragraph 3 because domestic remedies were unreasonably prolonged.The Committee emphasized that the State party cannot use the excuse of ongoing domestic court proceedings to avoid fulfilling its obligations under the Covenant, especially when those remedies are unreasonably prolonged. Evangeline is the mother of Benjaline Hernandez, a human rights advocate who was killed by military and paramilitary forces in Arakan, North Cotabato in April 2002. Believing that the investigations, prosecutions, and trials regarding her

daughter's murder have been ineffective and excessively delayed, Evangeline filed a complaint expressing concerns about the lack of progress in seeking justice within her country's legal system. The Committee observed that even after eight years, there has been no resolution in the criminal proceedings against those accused of committing the crime. In another case brought before them, Lenido Lumanog and Augusto Santos lodged a communication against the Philippines for violating Article 14, paragraph 3(c) of the Covenant. The Committee determined that for eight years, the state failed to conclude their review of these plaintiffs' death sentences. They reminded the state about its legal obligation under Article 2, paragraph 3(a) of the Covenant to provide an effective remedy which includes promptly reviewing their appeal as well as compensating them for any undue delay experienced during this process. Lenido Lumanog and Augusto Santos are two individuals among what is known as "Abadilla Five," who were unlawfully arrested, detained, and subjected to torture with intent to extract confessions from them.After more than 14 years of trial, the defendants were found guilty for the murder of Police Colonel Rolando Abadilla in June 1996. The conviction was based on the testimony of a single witness named Freddie Alejo. However, doubts have been raised regarding Alejo's credibility.

The Committee has determined that the Philippines violated the rights of the plaintiffs in these two cases due to ineffective and delayed remedies within their domestic legal system. Nevertheless, these violations were deemed legally justified under the country's Speedy Trial Act.

According to the domestic legislation, detaining individuals is permissible as part of the criminal legal process, despite it being a violation of international law outlined

in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in these specific instances.

In situations where domestic remedies are insufficient or significantly delayed, affected parties can file individual complaints with the Committee since the Philippines has ratified ICCPR's Optional Protocol. It should be noted that non-compliance with "exhaustion of domestic remedies" cannot be argued by states involved when cases are still under domestic procedural control.

To my knowledge, there has been no implementation at a national level concerning the Committee's views and opinions. Although Philippines' Constitution adopts international law principles, there is currently no established mechanism to fully enforce them. Therefore, even if a state is found guilty of violating international law and its signed commitments, achieving an "effective remedy" remains elusive.The insufficiency of the existing domestic mechanism, despite acknowledging rights, is exemplified by the Maguindanao massacre. The country's inability to fulfill its international obligations stems from chronic flaws within the domestic criminal justice system. Despite constitutional protections, codified laws, and acceptance of foreign law, these measures are ineffective in ensuring the right to an "effective remedy". To enforce these rights effectively, it is crucial to establish a well-developed domestic mechanism. Recently, a video surfaced featuring a backhoe driver named Bong Andal who provided a detailed account of how he used his excavator to bury the bodies of 58 victims who were brutally massacred by the Ampatuan family. According to Andal's confession, he dug a large hole near where the victims were shot and proceeded to bury their bodies along with their cars. He claimed that he was instructed by the Ampatuans themselves to carry out this gruesome act. The alleged motive behind this massacre was

to prevent Esmael Mangudadatu from running for governor of Maguindanao as a political opponent. Currently, the Ampatuan patriarch, two sons, and other family members are detained and undergoing trial for murdering these 58 victims which included 32 journalists covering the political race.The backhoe driver was arrested in November, while more than 90 other suspects remain at large. According to GMA, Andal, who had signed a deposition given to prosecuting officers and had a sole interview with them, repeated the allegations made in the written deposition. The web stated that some of his quotation marks were from the deposition and some were from the interview. Andal stated that he used the backhoe to force vehicles into a hole and then flattened them with its metal arm. He also mentioned that some vehicles had dead people inside and out of fear he closed his eyes and continued with the task. Additionally, Andal claimed to have used the excavator's arm to drag the dead bodies into the hole. In a video clip, he alleged that Andal Ampatuan Senior ordered him to take the excavator to where 58 people were shot dead and ensured it had enough fuel. Andal mentioned that he was threatened by the Ampatuans not to get caught or else they would kill his parents, siblings, and children. Currently under witness protection along with other informants provided by the national government, GMA expressed concern about potential retaliation from the kin as three informants have been killed since 2010.
Andal aspires to become a state informant, according to GMA in GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines. It is crucial to remember the brutal crime that took place four years ago

when 58 individuals were killed. On November 23, 2009, Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., along with his associates, redirected a convoy of vehicles heading to Maguindanao's provincial capitol and took them to an isolated village called Masalay. It was there that they ruthlessly attacked and murdered the victims, including 32 journalists and media workers. The influential Ampatuan family members and their allies are currently facing accusations and prosecution for this horrifying act. Six family members have been arrested and are presently detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City. While some suspects have been apprehended, others remain at large. Notably, eight individuals who share the same family name as the main suspects are still missing. The progress of the legal process has been hindered by defense delaying tactics. Out of the 96 detained suspects, only one has gone through trial so far since November 6 marks four years since the massacre occurred.The defense attorneys have yet to present their case after the prosecution rested back in November 2013.Three witnesses have lost their lives since 2010; among them is a former employee of the Ampatuan family whose dismembered remains were discovered in 2012However, President Benigno Aquino III wants the suspects convicted before his term ends in 2016, according to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. On November 21, the families of the media workers and journalists who died in the "Maguindanao slaughter" will retrace their loved ones' final route and ask when justice will be achieved. It is not enough for the orchestrators and followers to be confined in cells; justice for the victims is crucial. The families as well as the world demand justice, fearing that

without it, impunity will continue. The year 2009 was a dark time for Filipino media, with the deaths of 57 people including 32 journalists on November 23 in southern Philippines. A regional trial tribunal has ordered apprehension of 189 suspects connected to these violent deaths on that day. This incident gained global attention and some senators anticipated this civilian massacre in Maguindanao. Despite worldwide condemnation of the killings, momentum has been lost in this case. Recently, two members of the powerful Ampatuan family were cleared by the Department of Justice due to lack of evidence showing their involvement in a conspiracy.During the resumption of the famous Maguindanao massacre trial, a medical legal officer testified that one of the victims may have been raped before being shot. Since its occurrence, the Maguindanao massacre has been widely discussed and has affected not only Cotabato city but also other areas as it was televised. The people of Cotabato, especially families who lost loved ones in this brutal killing, have been traumatized by this incident which instilled fear in everyone due to its vicious nature. Various incidents such as bomb threats and kidnappings have occurred in Cotabato, however, violent deaths and the war against terrorists remain the most fearful subjects. In 2011, on the second anniversary of the massacre, 12 suspects including Tumi Timba Abas and Dukoy Badal were arrested with a premium reward of P300,000 each. In 2012, eight more suspects including Datu Anwar Upham "Ulo" Ampatuan and Datu Anwar "Ipi" Ampatuan Jr., prominent members of the Ampatuan family were arrested. This year saw only one suspect with a premium reward of P300,000 being apprehended on February 16:

Talembo "Tammy" Masukat. The remaining six suspects arrested this year had a lower premium reward amounting to P250,000 each.
Nasser Guia (arrested on February 8), Maot Bangkulat (arrested on April 8), Kudza Uguia Masukat (arrested on April 15), Edris Nanding Tekay (arrested on May 28), Mama Nomba Habib (arrested on July 25), and Alimudin Sanguyod (arrested on October 18) are the names of individuals who were arrested in relation to the Maguindanao massacre. One suspect, Maguid Amil, resisted arrest and was killed by authorities in Maguindanao on February 8. Amil threw a grenade and fired at an arresting officer. So far, a total of 108 suspects have been apprehended, with104 being arraigned and all pleading not guilty to multiple murder charges. Eight prominent members of the Ampatuan family are among those who have been arraigned for their involvement in the massacre. The incident, which occurred during the 2010 gubernatorial race in Maguindanao, resulted in the deaths of 58 people including journalists accompanying Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu. The tragedy took years for those affected to overcome and move forward from.Despite the loss of numerous family members, Mangudadatu displayed resilience and persisted with his campaign. His triumph brought happiness to the people and instilled hope for justice. Nevertheless, there are persistent pleas and grievances regarding the sluggish pace of the case, leading to frustration among the families of the victims. The denials from the Ampatuans serve as an obstacle in resolving this case. The supreme tribunal faced a challenging decision due to conflicting statements provided. Multiple narratives were concocted in order to evade punishment; however, compelling evidence necessitated a meticulous and intelligent investigation to ascertain the actual

perpetrator of this crime.Please visit the following links for more information:
- [Clip Article: Supreme Tribunal Faces Difficult Decision](
- [GMA News Report: 88 Suspects Still at Large, 4 Years After Ampatuan Massacre](
- [Rappler Article: Families of Maguindanao Massacre Victims Seek Compensation](
- [ABS-CBN News Focus: Backhoe Man Describes Maguindanao Massacre Burial](
- [Journal Article: The Maguindanao Massacre - Legal and Human Rights Implications of Court Delay](
- [The Media Project - Maguindanao Massacre Story Index](

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