Sunday, November 29, 2009

Resolve Maguindanao Massacre, Trade Group Urges Gov't

MANILA,Philippines - Unless quickly resolved, the Maguindanao bloodbath threatens to set back government efforts to entice investors that would create badly needed new jobs and improve lives in Mindanao, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines warned Sunday.

"By resolved we mean government must not only instantly bring the culprits to justice, but also immediately address all the issues that breed lawlessness in Mindanao, including the surge of private armies there," said TUCP secretary-general and former Senator Ernesto Herrera.

"The government must act fast to redeem Mindanao," Herrera said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

In some parts of Mindanao, it has become impossible for the people discern whether the armed men on checkpoints are police officers, soldiers, insurgents, private armies, plain brigands, "or all of the above," Herrera lamented.

The adverse global publicity generated by the bloodshed could erode recent gains in projecting the country as a desirable investment site, according to Herrera, former chairman of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development.

"It is not just Mindanao. The whole country is being affected in terms of potential foreign investors being alienated by the observation that we have become an unruly republic, where private armies freely roam and brazenly slaughter civilians and journalists," Herrera added.

The Maguindanao massacre left 57 people dead, including 30 journalists.

It was the biggest recorded loss of journalists in a single incident. The Philippines has thus earned the new status as the world’s most dangerous place for journalists.

The perception that law enforcement is weak, slow and inadequate emboldened in a big way those responsible for the Maguindanao butchery, Herrera said.

"Strong law enforcement is the best deterrence. The certainty that offenders will be swiftly apprehended and punished once they commit a felony, whether mass murder or kidnapping for ransom, is the reliable way to discourage lawlessness," he added.

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