"Thank you Lord for not allowing Mommy to go out with Daddy that evening... Thank you for letting her stay with us..." This was my youngest daughter's prayer over supper one evening. If I went out with James on the night of January 24, 2005 (like the way I used to), these 3 kids would have awakened the next day as orphans. My heart breaks every time I think of it. I guess it was not my time yet. Or maybe I just got lucky.
But not everyone is as lucky...
The children of Eduardo and Cecille Lechonsito were suddenly orphaned when their parents met their untimely death on November 23, 2009. While on their way to Cotabato City for a medical check up and ct scan (Eduardo suffered a mild stroke that day), their car was waylaid and led to the killing fields by the private militia (over 100 gunmen) of a Maguindanao Mayor.
They are not the only ones who perished in what is now tagged as Maguindanao Massacre.
A prominent political family in the South easily lost over a dozen of their members, all women, who were tasked to file the certificate of candidacy (for a gubernatorial position) of Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu. Together with Mangudadatu's wife, sisters (the youngest sister was 4 months pregnant!) and other relatives, 34 media practitioners likewise perished in "the single deadliest event for journalists in history."
Sadly, two lady lawyers, acting as legal counsel for the Mangudadatus , were also among those slain in the infamous massacre.
Ironically, Eduardo and Cecille Lechonsito were not even part of the Mangudadatu's convoy. These ordinary government employees were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time.
To date, 57 bodies (22 were women) have been recovered from the shallow graves that were dug by a backhoe which belonged to the Maguindanao provincial government. In an attempt to hide the gruesome murders, the victims' cars were also buried with them.
The manner by which the women victims were tortured, mutilated and killed (possibly raped too!) was truly unspeakable. The devil himself would have cringed at the thought.
The suspect? Scion of a political warlord in Maguindanao. The motive? Political rivalry and vendetta.
Thus ends the saga of the most feared and most powerful political clan in the southern part of the country. The entire nation watched (with great relief!!! ) as their downfall slowly unfolded.
This may be the worst election-related violence in the country but this is not the first time that the people here have heard of such atrocities. Goons, guns and gold seem to get so fast into the head of every aspiring political warlord. No matter how clean and sincere a man's intentions were at the start of his political career, the "power" eventually transforms him into a monster one way or the other. There are some exceptions, of course, and kudos to them who sincerely, incessantly and tirelessly work to make this country (and world) a better place to live in.
In most cases though, power is taken to mean as a carte blanche to take the law into one's hands. The Maguindanao massacre was carried out in broad daylight. It is quite scary to think that these people were so confident in committing mass murder with impunity thinking that they could get away with it. [Actually, they almost did if not for the timely (and unwelcome) appearance of the search team on board a chopper.]
As I said, this is not the only crime of this kind. A few months ago, a mass grave was also discovered in this city. After a controversy-ridden investigation and "technical-legal difficulties," everyone seemed to have forgotten about it already. Everyone moved on since then. The perpetrators conveniently hid under the cloak of the law which they themselves trampled on. But what about those people whose bones remained buried there?
And so it remained that way... unsolved! Sadly charged to experience.
For all of the Maguindanao massacre's victims' families, take comfort that the sacrifice of lives has finally unraveled and unmasked the monsters that lurked in the province of Maguindanao. They did not die in vain.
For those whose atrocities and complicities have not yet been disclosed, divine justice will eventually catch up with you. The truth will emerge and justice will take its full course... Somehow... Someday...
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." -Martin Luther King, Jr.-
"Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods." -Albert Einstein-