Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Maguindano Massacre Beyond Human Comprehension

Describing the mass slaying of 36 people, nine of them journalists, in Maguindanao province as "horrific and beyond human comprehension," Speaker Prospero Nograles on Tuesday said the national government should set aside all political considerations and arrest the people behind the killings particularly the masterminds at all cost, "even if it takes the entire Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to do it."

"This is already beyond political alliances. This horrific mass murder is just beyond human comprehension and the government should use everything in its power to apprehend and prosecute those responsible for this most atrocious incident in Maguindanao," said Nograles, as he urged the AFP and the PNP to beef up its security forces in Maguindanao to avert further escalation of violence in the area.

"I share the grief of the victims' families and I pray to God that those who are responsible for this atrocity will give up voluntarily to our government security forces," he said.

"I still cannot imagine how a man can be so brutal and cold-blooded in employing violence just to achieve one's political end. It is really unbelievable," he added.

The Speaker said both the AFP and the PNP should now step up efforts to disarm private armed groups (PAGs) in Mindanao as he noted that the incident in Maguindanao can erupt into a full-blown clan war, also known as "rido".

Nograles, who also hails from Mindanao (Davao), said that the effort to identify the culprits, particularly the masterminds, "should be done swiftly but with cold objectivity and all partisan considerations, including their political alliances should be set aside."

He also urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to assess the situation in the area and determine if it is still viable to hold an election there even if it is still near six months away.

"The Comelec can already suspend the election in the area until things cool down. Right now, the situation can be really volatile and we don't want more killings in the area," he said.

Nograles, however, noted that the investigation should not be based on speculations but on solid evidences and testimonies.

On the other hand, the Speaker also urged the Senate to give priority to the approved measure of the House of Representatives, which provides for stiffer penalties for firearms-related crimes.

"Experience will tell that Philippine politics is not without the taints of violence and bloodshed (citing the recent killings in Maguindanao)," said Nograles, noting that gun owners, including those who have expired licenses, should no longer have any excuse in failing to license their firearms because of the government's amnesty program.

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