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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Maguindanao Massacre death toll reached 57: The Worst Philippine Election related Violence

Maguindanao Massacre is now considered as the worst Philippine election related violence, and was condemned by the United Nations and the European Union.

"I condemn in the strongest possible terms the barbaric killing on 23 November 2009 of innocent civilians, including women, journalists and lawyers, who were preparing to participate in the electoral process in the Philippines," said Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU commissioner for external relations.

As of this moment, the death toll already reached 57 and Armed Forces public information chief Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner said the retrieved bodies belonged to 22 females and 35 males.

The victims, more than 20 of them are journalists, were in a convoy traveling to Shariff Aguak town when kidnapped and later executed by armed men. The group was about to file the certificate of candidacy (COC) of Buluan vice mayor Ismael "Toto" Mangudadatu, who is running for provincial governor in election 2010.

Genalyn Tiamzon-Mangudadatu, who is Toto's wife, and her sisters were among those killed.

Right now, the possible suspects of the gruesome killings were the powerful Ampatuan clan, a political rival of the Mangudadatus and a close ally of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Meanwhile, after the "arrest" of some suspects, Malacañang reminded concerned parties not to take the law into their hands. This call from Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita came hours after the Philippine National Police announced the arrest of some civilian volunteers linked to the crime. Ermita said they want to avoid a "rido" (blood feud) situation in Mindanao.

Ampatuan clan kicked out of Lakas-Kampi party

The administration Lakas-Kampi-CMD party last night kicked out three members of the powerful Ampatuan clan from its roster over their alleged involvement in the grisly Maguindanao massacre.

Ousted from the party were Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr.; his brother, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor Zaldy Ampatuan; and their father, former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr.

The Ampatuans were expelled "for their failure to uphold party ideals and principles in their area of jurisdiction, specifically relating to the peaceful, legal, and democratic pursuit and exercise of political power," said party chairman and presidential bet, Gilberto Teodoro Jr.

Among the evidence investigators are looking into that could possibly link the Ampatuans to the massacre are the backhoe retrieved from the massacre site, on which the name Gov. Andal Ampatuan is printed; the phone call of Toto's wife, Genalyn, to her husband shortly before she was killed; and the statements of four witnesses in the custody of the Mangundadatus.

For more news and photos about Maguindanao Massacre, you can visit GMA News.TV

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