When Monsters become Real

When I was a child, I would climb into bed with my mom and fall asleep in the comfort of her warmth, knowing monsters would not come close with my mom by my side.

I am no longer a child and have outgrown my fear of bedtime monsters. But what about children living in Maguindanao who wake up after a bad dream? How can their mothers assure them there are no monsters?

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As I prepared for the upcoming International Day to Eliminate Violence against women (November 25), I learned that a candidate sent his wife to file his certificate of candidacy as governor of the province. He had received threats that he would be harmed if he pursued his candidacy. So he decided that to send a woman, his wife, would be a safer thing to do. A few hours later, his wife, other women and companions, including members of the media, were brutally murdered.

Excerpt of the report published in Inquirer:

“Esmael Mangudadatu said the body of his murdered wife had been horrifyingly mutilated and that his dead sister and aunt had both been pregnant.

‘We can’t call him an animal because I have pets and they are tame. No, he is a monster. They are monsters,’ Mangudadatu told reporters, referring to Ampatuan Jr. and his gunmen.

‘My wife’s private parts were slashed four times, after which they fired a bullet into it,’ he added.

‘They speared both of her eyes, shot both her breasts, cut off her feet, fired into her mouth. I could not begin to describe the manner by which they treated her.”

To date, 62 bodies have been recovered.

Moreover, 12 members of media were part of the group that was killed. In its website, the International Federation of Journalists states:

“Under the current government the Philippines has become the most dangerous place in the world for media workers. At least 74 journalists have been killed during its eight-year tenure, yet the [Arroyo] government has not acted to end the culture of impunity. At last count, only four convictions had been secured,” the group said.”

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If I was a child, I would wave around  a giant dream catcher and make this bad dream go away. But it is real, the monsters are real.

And the only way the monsters will go away…

..is when the criminals, the crooks and the perpetrators of evil are arrested, prosecuted and convicted, swiftly – no cover-up, no delays, no bungling of evidence.

But not just that…

We need to work on our priorities. The next President has to right all the wrongs of this present administration.  Corrupt officials must be jailed. The Senate has come up with so many reports on multi-billion scams. What did this administration and the Ombudsman do? Nothing. No wonder, crooks and killers walk around without fear.

Our latest official statistics (2006) show that 27.6 million Filipinos are living below the poverty line. Our enrollment rate is lower than it was 10 years ago. 

The same statistics show that the region with the highest poverty incidence is the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The  province of Maguindanao is the 3rd poorest province with a poverty incidence of 62%.

In Maguindanao, school is often disrupted due to armed conflict. As such, their literacy rate is 66.27 compared to the national average of 92.3. The Philippine Human Development Report of 2005 states that only 39.7% of adults in Maguindanao have six years of basic education compared to the national average of 84%.

In my next blog, I will write about the need for a  national budget  that will  address social injustices that plague our nation.

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