Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros called the Maguindanao massacre "a GMA legacy." "Unfortunately, it is this kind of violence that we will inherit from GMA even after 2010," she said.
"Not only was her administration unable to dismantle private armies in Mindanao, one could even say that the administration has nurtured warlordism. It benefited the administration," she said.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said the incident is a blow to peace and stability in the Mindanao region and the rule of law, freedom and democracy.
If GMA has any political will, now is the time to show it
Politicians, religious leaders, human rights advocates and media groups yesterday called on the Arroyo government to show political will and use its full force against its political allies, the Ampatuans, who have been tagged in the massacre of local officials, women, and journalists in Maguindanao last Monday.
Makati Mayor and United Opposition president Jejomar Binay said there is no need to impose a state of emergency as long as government goes after the killers, even if they are political allies.
"The administration needs to show that this time, it will not tolerate the actions of political allies," Binay said.
He said the massacre in Maguindanao, a known administration bailiwick which delivered the votes for Arroyo in the 2004 elections, is "the price of political accommodation and selective justice."
He said the incident showed that government is helpless against private armed groups and loose firearms. "How can the presence of 100 armed men in a small town go unnoticed? What were the authorities doing at that time? There was either a failure of intelligence or gross negligence," he added.
Binay also deplored the killing of journalists who were covering the event. "Under the present administration, journalism has become a dangerous profession. And when most media killings go unresolved, it only emboldens criminal elements to go after journalists," he said.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the Maguindanao massacre "is one test that I insist the Arroyo administration must pass. The entire Filipino nation must act as one in challenging Mrs. Arroyo and all our law enforcement agencies to lose no time in arresting the perpetrators of this abominable act and if necessary shoot to immobilize them."
"Cheating in every election in Maguindanao by the Ampatuans to deliver the votes to Mrs. Arroyo in 2004 and her senatorial candidates in 2007 may be forgettable, but not necessarily forgivable. But killing political opponents, including those who had nothing to do with the forthcoming May elections is another matter altogether, and must therefore be treated differently if only to show that the rule of law can still reign in that part of the country," he said.
Several officials of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said President Arroyo should act quickly and prove that government, especially the Armed Forces where she is commander-in-chief, is in charge.
"This may be just an indicator of what the government and politics is all about in the Philippines," CBCP spokesman Msgr. Pedro Quitorio said.
CBCP president Archbishop Angel Lagdameo appealed for the restoration of justice in Maguindanao. "Whether it is politically motivated or not, it is still a crime against respect for life and peace and order in the community," he said.
Henrietta de Villa, chairperson of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, the incident is big blow to the credibility of the electorate in Maguindanao.
"I am distraught and angry and terribly saddened at the grizzly massacre in Maguindanao that we have barely begun the electoral process. I grieve with our ARMM Muslim election partners who have worked so hard to change for the better the election profile of the ARMM," De Villa said.
The Church-based election watchdog called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to transfer the area of filing the certificates of candidacy (COC) to Cotabato City.
Commission on Human Rights chairperson Leila de Lima said the PNP and the executive department must act, not only to respond to the killings, but to deliver expeditious justice.
"This is an outrage. Imagine... it was not enough that they were unarmed, but they had to behead women? What kind of animals are these killers?" De Lima said.
She also warned of more violence due to a possible vendetta of the Mangudadatu clan on the Ampatuans if intervention is not swift.
De Lima earlier supported calls for the disarming of private armies to prevent further bloodshed, adding that the Ampatuans did not amass such a large cache of firearms overnight.
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