Who owns that backhoe? (Revisiting the Ampatuan massacre)

By Inday Espina-Varona

Posted at Nov 23 2014 11:02 AM | Updated as of Nov 23 2014 07:02 PM

Who doesn’t?

Only those who did not kowtow, did not pander, did not channel funds and arms to the Ampatuans of Maguindanao.

Only those who refused to keep silent as the clan harassed and burned and killed to wrest control of lands to annex for their kingdom.

Only those who did not bargain away people’s lives and rights for a slot in command tickets come election time.

We must grieve and call for justice on behalf of 58 persons retrieved from under Maguindanao’s soil. We must never forget the carnage of November 23, 2009.

Yet neither should we overlook the precedents and the acts of commission and omission that built the perfect scenario for the Ampatuan massacre.

Context is everything. Until we address the roots of the massacre, we will keep on counting the lives the sacrificed on the altar of greed and power.

THIS WHAT IMPUNITY IS ALL ABOUT – “too much power, too little accountability”.

The Ampatuan massacre did not spring from a vacuum. The weak Philippine state has long provided rich soil for the seeds of carnage. A day after the massacre, I retrieved a 2007 interview of then Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao governor Zaldy Ampatuan by MindaNews’ Carol Arguillas.

Here is Ampatuan unfiltered:

“Actually, Maguindanao province is an extension of the home province of Her Excellency, PGMA (President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) which is Pampanga. Here in Maguindanao, considering that we have 20 mayors unopposed, these 20 mayors are allies of the administration, even those areas with opponents – Pagalungan and Talitay – the opponents are all allies of the administration.”

Arguillas’ interview was largely about the Ampatuan clan’s all-out support for Mrs. Arroyo in the 2007 elections. Following the 2009 massacre — around the time politicians were registering as contenders for the 2010 polls — the country woke up to find just what underpinned this support:

* Free flow of arms and ammunition from the Armed Forces of the Philippines
* Governance dictated by only a few privileged persons
* Governance implemented according to the needs of these privileged persons
* The resulting absence of government services – from courts to health to education
* Years of public monies being diverted into the pockets of local warlords – who then pay back the favor by mowing down anyone opposed to their patrons

Around a hundred men implemented that act of mayhem, which also holds the record for the world’s deadliest attack on journalists. It was no ordinary band of “bandits.” The perpetrators were led Shariff Aguak Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. and a senior police office, Sr. Inspector Dicay. They brought practically the entire security apparatus of Shariff Aguak and, presumably, Ampatuan town. This was a hydra — and its creator wasn’t just then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Read the complete article in the author's blog.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.