State of Emergency in Maguindanao Effected

As the country commemorates the third anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre on Friday, the Aquino government said the state of emergency in Maguindanao remains in effect to ensure peace and order in the province.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Thursday that at present the government sees no reason that would warrant to lift the state of emergency in Maguindanao.

Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo placed Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato City under a state of emergency on Nov. 24, 2009, a day after the massacre occurred in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao. The massacre claimed the lives of 58 civilians, most of them journalists.

The country commemorates on Friday, Nov. 23, the third year of the Maguindanao massacre which was dubbed as the bloodiest single-day killing in the country’s electoral history.

Lacierda said the government has yet to receive requests from the local government officials to lift the state of emergency in the province.

"During the first year (of Aquino’s term), December of 2010 if I remember it right, we had a meeting with the local government officials of Mindanao. And there was a discussion as to whether to lift it or not, the common consensus of the local government leaders, and I include also the governor of Maguindanao, Governor (Esmael) Mangudadatu, they recommended that the state of emergency be maintained," Lacierda said.

"Now that there’s upcoming elections also, there is no call from them to lift the state of emergency and I think that is still the position taken by the local government officials there. So the state of emergency, as of this briefing, is still in place and to ensure peace and order in the area of Maguindanao, especially in these coming elections," he said.

Lacierda said Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas has already identified Maguindanao as one of the 15 provinces in the priority election watchlist.

President Benigno S. Aquino III remains committed on his promise to provide protection for the witnesses and the victims’ relatives, Lacierda said.

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