By CPP Information Bureau
The Communist Party of the Philippines expressed today its utmost condemnation of the massacre of a convoy of at least 40 people in Maguindanao, mostly relatives, lawyers and supporters of Buluan vice mayor Datu Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu who is challenging the warlord Ampatuan clan's hold on the governorship of Maguindanao province. Among those killed was mayor Mangudadatu's wife, Genalyn, and at least 12 journalists who were covering the convoy.
So far, 24 bodies have already been found in shallow graves in Salman village near the massacre, many of them mutilated. Most of the victims were women and have signs of having also been sexually abused.
The CPP said that the large number of journalists killed in the incident has made it the biggest massacre of journalists in a single day. More than ever, it puts the Philippines among the worst countries in the world for journalists to work and live in.
The victims were intercepted en route to the COMELEC provincial office in Shariff Aguak to file Esmael Mangudadatu's candidacy. Witnesses relayed that Shariff Aguak Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. himself was in command of around 100 armed men, including Maguindanao police forces and the Ampatuans' private goons, who committed the kidnapping and massacre. The younger Ampatuan plans to succeed his father Andal Sr., as Maguindanao governor but is presently facing a formidable challenge from the Buluan vice mayor. Witnesses also relayed that Esmael's sister, Mangudadatu Mayor Eden Mangudadatu, was even involved in a brief melee with Mayor Ampatuan before the convoy was overcome by the superior force of the attackers.
"While Malacañang had no choice but to officially 'condemn' the blatant massacre," said the CPP, "it is now in a serious quandary on how to handle the case. The Ampatuan clan, which had been stifling opposition and marshalling 'command' votes to favor Gloria Arroyo and her allies in the past elections was repaid with the governorship of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao as well as of Maguindanao and the mayorship of many towns in the province. Malacañang now wants to take advantage of the incident by declaring 'emergency rule' in the province."
While singling out the feudal warlord Ampatuan clan leaders, their goons in the Philippine National Police as well as their own private army and their close ally Gloria Arroyo as particularly responsible for massacre, the CPP also condemned in general the violence that has always marked traditional Philippine electoral politics.
"Worse, in recent elections where the progressive forces have increasingly participated in parliamentary politics, it has been the leaders, campaigners and members of the progressive parties and candidates who have comprised the big majority of the victims of the violence of reactionary politics. Much of this violence is being committed by government military forces themselves," the CPP said.