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Maguindanao Massacre Update

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: Philippines

The Maguindanao Massacre on Mindanao is but a symptom of a grave political situation in many provinces of Mindanao. My wife is from Mindanao, on the border of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, and we built a house there. (Iligan City where Americano Steve Kindy was executed by Maranos in a Jeepney recently.) We have seen a bridge near our house bombed, the stores where we shop bombed, and an entire crew of work cohorts of her father murdered with machetes.

One year ago, a massacre of around 50 unarmed people – most of them women and journalists – occurred in Maguindanao. It is important to understand how savage and premeditated this act was, and how it reflects upon the regional political realities. It should not be viewed as some isolated bizarre out-of-context event, but rather the culmination of and quintessential nature of a long history that has led to it.




In Maguindanao, the Ampatuan Clan has ruled for decades. Andal Ampatuan Sr. was governor for three terms, running unopposed (!), and numerous towns have had mayors from the same clan. Because of term limits, Andal Ampatuan Sr. was being replaced by his son Andal Ampatuan Jr. to run unopposed in the next so-called “election”. But a rival clan leader, Esmael Mangudatu, did the unthinkable: he announced his candidacy to oppose him.

Because of death threats against him, a convoy of vehicles was sent to register his candidacy, filled with women, journalists, and supporters that should have been off-limits to warlord assassination. But as the pictures show, the Ampatuan Clan – with police, their private army, and Ampatuan Jr. himself – stopped them at a checkpoint with a pre-dug mass grave to fill with their dead bodies.

This recent news article from the trial indicates that Ampatuan Jr. personally massacred about 40 of the innocent and unarmed people. He lined the first group up, executed them in cold blood, and then proceeded to assassinate the remainder screaming for mercy in the vans. Those who tried to escape were shot by police and militiamen. That’s right – shot by police. Among the 50 people currently on trial – 28 of them are police:

Trial Testimony - Ampatuan Massacre

How could this shockingly horrific act be perpetrated by the regional political leadership and police?

Maguindanao is one of the poorest provinces in the Philippines. The largest source of wealth by far is the “Internal Revenue Allotment” (they are part of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao), roughly between half a billion and a billion pesos annually in the last half decade. In addition to that are all the political patronage job appointments that come with political power. In addition to that are all the graft, corruption, and criminal syndicate revenues. These vary from road block extortion money, kidnapping, business extortion, land theft, marijuana/shabu production and sales, etc.

The political class lives in mansions and is escorted by convoys of SUV’s and trucks with machine guns mounted in the beds. When they come through with the sirens blaring: get out of the way or be crushed. There is plenty of money for massive and ornate government administration buildings, their sparkling parades of SUV’s and their armies – but not for education, where the majority of people are beneath the poverty line income and the majority has 6th grade education or less.

In short, Maguindanao has been run by a crime syndicate in control of the political money and employment machine in addition to the “businesses” normally thought of as the province of criminal gangsters. This source of wealth and power is worth killing for. If you think the massacre pictured above is shocking, read some of the citations at the end where torture and execution of live people with chain saws are discussed.

The rulers of this dynasty were sheltered by the Arroyo Administration in Manila because they delivered the votes for her. In some districts, by “magic” not a single vote was cast against her. In the 2004 election, every senate candidate she backed won in the ARMM. Again, numerous districts cast statistically impossible votes.

After that election, local school administrator Musa Dimasidsing told a national commission on electoral fraud that he'd personally witnessed ballot stuffing. He was murdered with a shot to the head soon after, and his murder remains unsolved. Interviews with journalists or government investigations result in your execution. So people remain silent in the face of the most brazen corruption.

Despite the constitutional prohibition against private armies, Arroyo “legalized” them with an executive order for Mindanao under the auspices of the war with insurgents. The Ampatuan clan is fighting with the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) in this region. The MILF is a secessionist group that among other things charges the leadership of the ARMM with political corruption and cronyism - and regardless of whether one opposes the MILF, they certainly are right about that charge.

Andal Ampatuan Sr. came to prominence and favor with the national government by running a paramilitary force aligned with the 6th Infantry Division of the Philippine National Army. Why? The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao had been established in 1990 as a negotiated end to the bloody conflict between the national government and the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) that killed more than 100,000 people.

The break-away MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) disagreed with that settlement, essentially accusing the MNLF of selling out in the quest for liberation in order to obtain the benefits of corrupt crony power within the confines of an unjust national government administration of Moro land and peoples. So the conflict is ongoing between the MILF and the national government. Regional political authorities benefit from the money and power flowing from alignment with the national government. That sets the MILF against both the national and regional governments – the Ampatuan Clan being one of them.

The long history since Magellan landed in the 1500’s is that the indigenous people of Mindanao have violently fought outside rule and resource pillage. They, largely Muslim, fought the Spanish, then the Americans, and now the Philippine national government. The massive immigration of Christian Filipinos from Luzon and Visayas after the 1950’s, (being offered free land by the National Government), in one generation rendered the Muslims a minority in a land they had previously been 98% in the majority. In the areas predominantly “Christian” – i.e. comprised mostly of these recent immigrants – you do not see so much of these kinds of bloody conflicts.

Where they remain in the majority – as in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao – there still remains ghastly conflict as the Maguindanao Massacre attests. As a retired professor of Economics and Political Economy in particular I cannot help but remark upon the distinctive difference between these settings.

In one setting, the primary source of wealth is the private sector economy where people run merchant businesses, farms, factories, fisheries and etc. In that setting one becomes wealthy by making shrewd business decisions, working hard, being honest with your trade and customers, saving money and investing. You also see the younger generation looking up to the adults for guidance in trade and industry, in school and in employment.

In the other setting wealth derives from brute force at the end of a gun barrel and political control over others. It is a top-down economic power structure rather than bottom-up. There is also a very good article on how the mercenary armies are filled with youths that have the elder generation living in fear of their juniors.

Replacement of one political oligarchy with another doesn’t have great prospects for reform in that kind of situation. The commoners will sit and tremble at the feet of whichever oligarchy is in power. The ancient maxim that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely is seen in full force with the Maguindanao Massacre. A clan in control of both corrupt political and criminal syndicates was willing to mass-assassinate anyone daring to challenge their control of it – and so will the next.

A few more articles:

CS Monitor on Ampatuan Clan

pcijorg article on Ampatuan Clan

Young Guns and Terror

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: Philippines


"The perfection/respect/credibility of a man decreases by the number of marriages he has had and by the number of kids he has outside his current marriage. ", Quote by Bite YourDust
  • Met on yahoo chat through a friend.
  • April 2010 - Decided to meet in person
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  • 06.21.2010 - We met in Philippines
  • 06.24.2010 - Engaged
  • 06.28.2010 - Came back to USA
  • 07.05.2010 - She flew back to Dubai (work)
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  • 02.19.2011 - NOA2 hard copy received
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  • 03.02.2011 - packet 3 & 4 received by email
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Thanks for the graphic content warning, but I am not shocked nor surprised. I see them every now and then. When you live in the Philippines, especially in the provinces, you get used to the corruption and the assassinations/murders perpetrated by warlords and mafia-style businessmen & women who got themselves seated in a government position for more leverage and power. Gloria herself and Noynoy's family is part of this very system.

When I talk to my new friends online or my clients, when they ask about the Philippines, sometimes these political situations are mentioned and they'd think that I was telling them exaggerated horror stories. When the Maguindanao Massacre hit the news, I wasn't surprised, but my foreign friends certainly did and I felt a little vindicated for all their disbelief of my stories over the years. I then told them that the only difference between that massacre and the others that has been happening over the years, was that one was a massacre (so many people at once instead of 1-5 people at time) and they were composed of a lot of journalists and women so it's inevitable that the international media would pick it up.

Until now, political killings (in the guise of anti-communist strategies) and political killings (in the "politics" sense of the word) are happening all over the country, and there are several victims every week. Many of them doesn't even hit the local news, much less the national and international news. Many are also being abducted and tortured, and summarily executed, even in these times when Noynoy is supposed to be all good. He can't control the military (or maybe he does) and amidst a lot of controversy, he's even bringing the US troops for some "exercises" (under the much more controversial VFA agreement) to their very controversial and troubled Hacienda Luisita.

If you want to see the news that doesn't hit the mainstream media, and if you want to see the list of other people being killed off left and right, an alternative online news publication has them at http://www.bulatlat.com. And like rlogan, it's not for the weak of heart and weak of stomach, so be warned.

2009/12/30 - Met online

2010/03/27 - 1st Visit to the Phils

2010/04/03 - Left the Phils back to the US

2010/05/__ - Engagement (unofficial)

2010/07/19 - Filed I-129F

2010/07/27 - Check cleared

2010/08/21 - 3rd Call to USCIS call center, finally got our Case #, still no mail

2010/09/01 - NOA1 official date

2010/09/07 - NOA1 received, FINALLY!!!

2010/10/06 - Touched (expedite request callback from USCIS, giving us the requirements)

2010/10/07 - Finally got the papers from the doctor and submitted requirements for expedite

2010/10/07 - Touched with callback

2010/10/14 - USCIS website says it's APPROVED!!! mailed

2010/10/19 - received at NVC

2010/10/21 - NVC sent documents to the US Embassy in Manila

2010/10/23 - 2nd Visit the the Phils, touchdown in Manila & flight to Samar, Pamamanhikan for brunch, Engagement Party for dinner

2010/10/24 - Picnic with close family and friends

2010/10/25 - Engagement Party with family in Manila

2010/10/26 - Leave the Phils back to the US

2010/11/22 - Interview at the US Embassy in Manila - VISA APPROVED!!!

2010/12/30 - POE in Las Vegas. TOGETHER AT LAST!

2011/03/06 - Married in Las Vegas

2011/05/03 - AOS, EAD & AP filing date

2011/05/11 - NOA1 for all

2011/05/24 - successful walk-in biometrics (originally 6/10)

2011/06/20 - got online status update and hardcopy of interview appointment dated 6/16 but scheduled for 7/26

2011/07/22 - AP approved, EAD card in production

2011/07/26 - AOS interview. RFE coz they LOST MY MEDICAL!!! GRRR!

2011/07/30 - EAD/AP combo card in the mail

2011/10/21 - finally got my GREENCARD after several complaints all over the place

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I had seen the pictures shortly after the incident but good posts from both of you.

April 24, 2010: Married in Butuan City
May 23, 2010: Submitted I-130
May 28, 2010: NOA-1 Received
October 19, 2010: NOA-2 Received
October 26, 2010: Case Number Assigned
October 28, 2010: IIN Received
November 3, 2010: AOS paid
November 5, 2010: AOS status "PAID". Sent AOS packet
November 6, 2010: DS-3032 email received. Emailed DS-3032
November 8, 2010: IV paid, DS-3032 accepted
November 10, 2010: IV status "PAID". Sent IV packet
November 15, 2010: IV received at NVC
November 22, 2010: False Checklist for missing DS-230
November 29, 2010: AOS + IV entered into system
December 4, 2010: SIF, Case Completed
December 6, 2010: Interview Scheduled
December 27-28, 2010: Passed Physical
January 6, 2011: Interview @ 0830 Approved
January 14, 2011: Visa received
January 31, 2011: CFO seminar completed
February 11, 2011: POE- LAX

Removal of Conditions
January 8, 2013: Mailed I-751
January 10,2013: NOA1
February 6, 2013: Biometrics Appoint.

June 4, 2013: Received I-797 NOA removal of conditions
Ordinarily he was insane, but he had lucid moments when he was merely stupid.

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: Philippines

really sad. i've seen a youtube video of the footage and it was horrible. i know it sounds impossible but i still hope that someday the philippine government would change for the better. :(:(:(:(:(:(

here's a link of the video that i've seen (this is a bit disturbing so please don't watch if you can't bear it)

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