MANILA — The clan accused of orchestrating the Philippines’ worst political massacre — also considered the single worst killing of journalists on record — plotted the attack over a family dinner, a longtime housekeeper testified Wednesday, September 8, 2010, at the start of a long-delayed trial here.
The patriarch of the clan that has long controlled the province of Maguindanao in the southern Philippines, Andal Ampatuan Sr., gathered his sons, brothers and other guests at the dinner table six days before the killings of 57 political rivals and journalists last November, said the witness, Lakmudin Salio. (Ed. note: to date 6 witnesses to this event have been killed!)
Mr. Ampatuan asked how they could pre-empt a political rival, Esmael Mangudadatu, from challenging them for the post of governor, according to Mr. Salio, who said he was serving food at the dinner as the family hatched the plan. Mr. Salio testified that Mr. Ampatuan’s son Andal Ampatuan Jr. replied by saying: “That’s easy. If they come here, just kill them all.”
The father asked his other children if they agreed, Mr. Salio said, adding, “Everybody laughed, saying, ‘It’s O.K. for everybody to be killed.’ ”
Six days later, a convoy of Mr. Mangudadatu’s relatives and journalists traveling to the provincial capital to file his candidacy papers was ambushed on a highway by as many as 100 gunmen. The 57 victims, including Mr. Mangudadatu’s wife, Genalyn, and about 30 journalists, were driven to the top of a hill, separated into groups of men and women and then shot and buried there in mass graves. Two vehicles, one belonging to UNTV, a local television network, were buried on another side of the hill.
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MANILA, Philippines—Pioneer of the progressive drivers' movement in the country, staunch fighter for the rights of the marginalized, and a most endeared transport leader for many drivers and poor people, Medardo “Ka Roda” Roda, passed away on September 5 due to cardiac arrest.
Statement of the Antonio Zumel Center For Press Freedom on the Passing of Alexander Martin Remollino 4 September 2010
The Antonio Zumel Center for Press Freedom extends its deepest condolence to the family, friends and confreres of Alexander Martin Remollino, who passedaway last September 3. Ka Alex, as he was fondly called, was a longtime writer for Bulatlat.com, a poet and an activist.
In his poetry, Ka Alex lent his fervent voice to denounce oppression.
In his activism, most recently with the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, he showed a commitment to side with the Filipino masses.
In his journalism, he trumpeted the struggle of the Filipino people for genuine democracy.
Ka Alex made a real sacrifice. With his writing skills, he could have easily sought a job with mainstream media or advertising companies. But he chose to pursue alternative and progressive journalism, realizing early on that his pen can be used as a sword to fight injustice, oppression and tyranny.
He embodied the ideals that activist-journalists like Antonio Zumel had sought to live up to: to relentlessly seek the truth and to always side with the people.
He serves as an inspiration to young Filipino journalists. His legacy will remind them that serving the people is something that journalists can -- and must -- do.
We are proud of Ka Alex. We will miss him.
ANTONIO ZUMEL CENTER FOR PRESS FREEDOM www.zumel.com