Monday, November 23, 2009

Maguindanao massacre claims at least 36 lives

11/23/2009 | 05:52 PM

At least 36 people, mostly identified with Buluan, Maguindanao vice mayor Datu Ismail "Toto" Mangudadatu but including some media people on Monday were abducted and later killed by gunmen allegedly led by members of the Ampatuan political clan.

Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said in a local television interview that 21 bodies - 13 female and eight male - have so far been recovered. They had been beheaded.

The 36 victims were among the more than 50 abducted by the suspects. Some of the victims were women and media men covering the filing of the COC.

"Away politika po ito dahil yung nangyari pong pagdukot sa mga kamag-anak ni (Mangudadatu) by the elements of Mayor Ampatuan, sa ngayon po tinitingnan natin itong anggulo na ito (This is politically-motivated because the hostage-taking of Mangudadatu's relatives by the elements of Mayor Ampatuan, we're looking at this angle)," Brawner said in an interview with GMA News 24Oras.

Toto's wife, Genalyn Tiamzon-Mangudadatu, was among those beheaded, according to Toto himself.

A MalacaƱang official immediately recommended that the entire Maguindanao province be placed under a state of emergency.

"This is a gruesome massacre of civilians unequalled in recent history. Even women and media men were not spared. There must be a total stop to this senseless violence," said presidential adviser on Mindanao affairs Jesus Dureza in a text message to reporters.

"I strongly recommend that a state of emergency be imposed in the area and that everyone be disarmed. Anything less will not work," he added.

In an interview Monday evening, Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesperson James Jimenez said he will refrain from making any comment but expects Commissioner Elias Yusoph, who is from Mindanao and is more familiar with the situation there, to issue a statement tomorrow.

In an earlier interview with Radio dzBB, Brawner said the abducted victims included Mayor Mangudadatu's sisters Bai Farinah and Bai Eden Mangudadatu, the incumbent vice mayor of Buluan town.

Other abducted victims, according to Mangudadatu, included lawyers Connie Brizuela and Cynthia Oquendo, Rasul Daud, and Faridah Sabdulah, and some 30 journalists.

The victims were abducted about 10:30 a.m. while on their way to Maguindanao elections office to file a certificate of candidacy (COC) in behalf of Mangudadatu, who will run for governor in Maguindanao province.

Brawner said they were abducted by some 100 men allegedly led by Mayor Datu Unsay Ampatuan and one Police Senior Inspector Dicay of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Shariff Aguak.

“I cannot give you the exact number of all the dead persons but rest assured merong namatay, meron namatay (they were killed, they were killed) and according to the information, some of them were beheaded, some of them were shot to death and some of them sinagasaan (were run over)," said Madaser Mangudadato, assemblyman in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). - GMANews.TV

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