BLOOD-FOR-BLOOD JUSTICE IN MAGUINDANAO

Privileged Spits

WILL RP JUSTICE SYSTEM WORK?

‘BLOOD FOR BLOOD’ JUSTICE?

By TOTO CAUSING

THE truth is that the culture of Maguindanao natives as to what kind of justice should be meted out to the murderers is still prevailing among all Muslim Filipinos. The justice practices are similar among the tribesmen in Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.



With this reality, can we expect that the victims will never take justice into their hands?



Everybody in Cotabato agrees that the Mangudadatus of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat are among the most civil, most peace-loving and most understanding to the Christian neighbors and constituents.



One proof to this is: Pax Mangudadatu won three straight terms as governor of Sultan Kudarat province despite the fact that he was running against Christian opponents in a place where non-Muslim voters are only 25 percent. He then won the lone congressional seat and his son also won handily.



It is but natural for the voters to vote politicians who do no harm or who do more good than harm.



With this reputation about the attitude and character of the Mangudadatus, can they withstand the pressure of extreme grief and anger over the loss of their women who have been insisted to have been raped before having been killed brutally in that unforgettable November 23, 2009 massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao?



Only time and God or Allah can tell.



Buluan Vice-Mayor Toto Mangudadatu has been spewing outrage in every television footage showing him. He has always stressed that Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. of Datu Unsay town and the latter’s more than 100 armed goons must answer.

Toto has been consistent in telling the world that his eyewitnesses now in his custody saw how his wife was raped, speared off of private parts, shot on two boobs and the private part, and fired upon point-blank on her face.



He has also been consistent in insisting that his two sisters, both pregnant, also suffered the fate of his wife.



What is more, Toto’s outrage has been fueled further by his moral obligation to at least 32 media persons and two lady lawyers he invited to accompany his wife in filing his certificate of candidacy for the governorship of Maguindanao but only to meet brutal death.



He cannot back out from this obligation to the people other than his relatives because it was his desire to run for governor, represented by a piece of paper, that cost their lives.

Pax, considered as the patriarch of the Mangudadatus, has strictly ordered his relatives not to start a bloody revenge and give the justice system a chance.



The present governor of Sultan Kudarat, a neighbor province of Maguindanao, is Teng Mangudadatu, a son of Pax and a cousin of Toto.

But the killing is, unarguably, too extreme to resist to take justice in their own hands.



Actually, what has not been expected and talked about is the possible revenge of the Ilonggo families who lost their relatives in the November 23, 2009 infamous massacre in Ampatuan town.



The Ilonggo victims in that most-brutal-ever massacre are reporters and the two lady lawyers.



Lest, no one should forget that during the height of Moro National Liberation Front rebellion in the early 1970s, it was the Ilonggo group known as “Ilaga” that fought toe-to-toe against the Moro fighters—in manners not far less brutal than the Ampatuan massacre.




‘Rido’ system

Since time immemorial, everybody in Maguindanao and in the neighboring provinces knows how Maguindanaoans seek justice for the death of a relative.

You can describe this system of justice as: BLOOD FOR BLOOD.



Maguindanao natives call it “rido”—a justice whereby a clan whose relative is murdered takes revenge against the clan of the murderer. Usually, the victims of revenge are the innocent relatives.



When a life is taken from them, the original sinners feel now they have the better right to kill and they would now plan to take lives again from the other clan.

In many cases, “rido” is a never-ending story. Not even time can heal the wounds.



In Tagalogs, they call this, “Ubusan ng lahi!” In Visayans, Cebuanos or Ilonggos, they call this “Baslanay” or “Balusay.”



In other cases, the thought of “rido” actually discourages many not to start one bloody attack or it will give meaning to the saying: “You reap what you sow.”

The bigger the clans are involved, the deadlier the “rido” becomes.



A look at any court in Maguindanao would show no cases of murder or homicide involving the natives as the accused or the victims.



The families of the victim do not think of coming to court where justice wheels run for five years to 15 years in full course before a judgment can be had and executed. It becomes a talk of justice delayed justice denied.



Maguindanaoans are not used to wait for justice.

This kind of “rido” is only about an ordinary killing.





Fact of massacre being extremely brutal


The story on “blood for blood” war is expected to be far different in the case of the massacre of at least 57 women, children, lawyers and journalists in that bloody carnage where Andal Jr. has been positively identified to be the one who directly gave orders to kill anybody in sight.



The degree of shock and the fact that it is unquestionably revolting to conscience would drastically change the color of the game of “rido.”



Here, the brutality or savagery is historic, the number of victims is un-equalled, and the number of journalists killed in one incident has made the Philippines as the world’s most dangerous place for journalist, beating Iraq by a far margin.



Everybody agrees, even if Andal Jr. is cut into pieces it is not enough as a justice to the 57 innocent human beings whose bodies were mangled, assuming he is guilty. Even famous and legendary folk singer Freddie Aguilar cries in his song "Maguindanao" that it is not enough to even punish the souls of the massacre culprits.





Arrest of Ampatuan scion




The surrender or arrest of Andal Jr. to the authorities may have alleviated a bit the outrage from both Muslim and Christian communities in Mindanao.



Definitely, this does not yet define what would be expected in the few more days as the country runs up to the highly-anticipated 2010 elections, particularly the gubernatorial race in Maguindanao.



However, indications have shown no simmering down of hatred.



During the inquest proceedings done by the Department of Justice at the airport in General Santos City, the extreme outrage nearly broke out when Toto saw Andal Jr. face to face.



Thanks to the cooler heads and the overwhelming presence of law enforcers, a possible bloody revenge was averted.



The face of Andal Jr. showed a picture of a man who has not slept for days; his eye bags were dark and deep.



The more outrage was fueled when he denied having a hand in the goriest-ever massacre and pointed to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as the culprits.



MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu immediately debunked this claim, insisting that MILF has no interest in local politics.



Andal Jr. has been unrepentant.





Fears of whitewash
or manipulation


Given the kind of justice system the Philippines has for over 100 years, it is no secret that it affords many opportunities for the accused to play around with.



In the case of Andal Jr., even if he is guilty, which is likely, it is possible that he would make up a play to call in some of his men to own up the massacre in exchange for money in order to free him from jail.



In the case of the late Mayor Honorato Galvez of San Ildefonso, Bulacan, his bodyguards owned up the crimes and were the ones who were kept in jail while the mayor was freed, in addition to the account of the police crime laboratory that the bullets that killed the victims did not fit the gun of Galvez.



What happened to Galvez is not far to happen in the case of Andal Jr.



It has always been a practice of lawyers-operators to make a play conspiring with the fiscals and the judge on the purpose of getting a court order to lessen liability or acquit the accused.



And if there is apparent whitewash, the “blood for blood” backlash is inevitable.



With the vivid details of reports, photos and footage so far that have been bombarded on the public, the witnesses mentioned by Father Jun Mercado as having positively identified the Ampatuan son as the leader of the band, and the fact that the provincial government backhoe was there, coupled with the coming of a witness who was among those ordered to rape and brutally kill, and the fact that there have been no other persons interested in killing the wife and sisters of Toto, his lady lawyers and the 27 journalists, it cannot be explained to the public how Andal Jr. can be declared innocent-and why the gunmen were not arrested.





Conclusions




Given these considerations, anybody can just sigh to ask: (a) Will the present justice system work? and (b) Will “blood-for-blood” justice erupt?



Additionally, the present justice system cannot work because no fiscal and judge of Maguindanao would ever find probable cause and sentence the Ampatuans as guilty of the world’s worst massacre of journalists.





Recommendation




To avoid the repeat of the goriest-ever massacre, the only option is to change the system of justice.



It is proposed that the country now adopts Hukuman ng Mamamayan, or the Filipino-designed Jury System. This is to ensure that laws on crimes are implemented to preclude the possibility of breeding and the molding again of criminals as worst as the Ampatuan massacre killers, who were said to have used to killing ordinary Maguindanao people for ten years that they developed the habit of fearless mass killing.



The Ampatuans are examples of warlords who have been treated as “babies” by the administration of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for delivering the needed votes where Fernando Poe Jr. got zero and where her senatorial candidates were 12-0 winners.

The Hukuman ng Mamamayan is composed of two bodies: the Grand Jury and the Trial Jury.



The Grand Jury shall be composed of ordinary folks whose names and faces shall be hidden and they will be chosen by raffle from the voters’ list to exercise the power to decide who shall be arrested, brought to court for trial, the power to jail bought or threatened witnesses who refuse to testify until they agree to talk, the power to jail arrogant or threatened policemen and other law enforcers until they agree to work as detectives.



The Trial Jury shall be composed of ordinary folks whose names and faces shall be hidden and chosen in the same manner. It will decide as to which claims are true and which are false.

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