Triple-M Whammy: Maguindanao, Massacre, and Martial Law

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“Getting to the top is optional, but getting back down is mandatory! You cannot stay at the Summit forever.” — First Philippine Mount Everest ExpeditionFiery debates sparked this week’s unprecedented Joint Session of Congress to address PGMA’s Presidential Proclamation 1959 dated December 4 “Declaring Martial Law in the Province of Maguindanao, etc.” and will continue up to next week/s. Even more heated and aggravating for the Arroyo legacy (and for the Philippine reputation) is the flood of reports/opinions/ editorials/analyses from the domestic and international media overwhelmingly decrying the “Triple-M Whammy” of mass murder (attributed to the Ampatuan clan headed by Maguindanao Governor Andal Sr.), media fatalities (numbering 27), and Martial Law.The endemic political rot: A handful of familiesThe Asia Wall Street Journal in its editorial of December 10, speaks with forceful historical authority by asserting: “The decision by current President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to declare Martial Law for the first time since 1972 is no small step. She’s taking a very big risk both for the country and for her own political future. Mrs. Arroyo’s move to impose military rule in Maguindanao Province was prompted by the worst single act of political violence in the country’s recent history. A band of thugs allegedly massacred 57 people on 23 November in a convoy on their way to submit candidacy papers on behalf of Esmael Mangudadatu, who is running for governor. The chief suspects, according to police and media reports, are members of the powerful Ampatuan clan. Patriarch Andal Sr. is the incumbent governor and his son, Andal Jr., is running for the post. Police yesterday released a list of 161 suspects connected to the clan and charged five, including Andal Sr., with rebellion. Andal Jr. has turned himself in. The family denies involvement.“Whatever the short-term virtues of Mrs. Arroyo’s Martial Law declaration – and those are debatable – this case has exposed endemic rot in Philippine governance that Martial Law will not fix. The biggest problem is the extent to which Philippine politics is dominated by a handful of families. Making matters worse, a weak central government in Manila has for years outsourced various law-and-order functions to powerful clans...”Martial Law only a band-aid – AWSJOther prestigious networks and international media report similar expressions of outrage about the Maguindanao killings and the Martial Law proclamation, especially focusing on PGMA’s coddling of political warlords (who surely hold secrets of election fraud and political hocus-pocus) and her unpopular, self-centered style of governance akin to Ferdinand Marcos and a handful of African and Latino dictators.Continued the same AWSJ outlook: “Writing off the Philippines now would be a mistake. The province of Maguindanao shares an island with areas where the US military is helping Philippine forces fight the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf Group. A lot is at stake there. That’s why it’s so important to understand that Martial Law is not only controversial – it’s only a band-aid.”Leaders and supporters/ship captains and crewsThe advent of the May, 2010, elections has put the glaring spotlight on Leaders and Supporters (Skippers and Crews) – incumbents and Presidentiables/wannabes in particular.In such an emergency situation – at this time of the election period – the actions of elected and “wannabe” officials define the quality of leadership that they could potentially prove in positions of high responsibility. The immediate action taken by presidential candidate Gilberto Teodoro (Gibo) – when already without official authority having resigned as Secretary of National Defense the week before – was to expel Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. …