The government of Australia has expressed its condemnation of the allegedly politically-motivated violence in Maguindanao, Philippines.
In the website of its Embassy in the Philippines, Australia through its Ambassador Rod Smith released the following statement:
“Australia condemns the senseless and brutal killing of civilians and journalists in Maguindanao on 23 November. We welcome the Philippine Government’s commitment to take swift action to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims.
“Politically-motivated killings and other forms of intimidation have no place in any society. Australia urges all political aspirants to participate in the political process in a lawful and peaceful way.
“Media representatives must also be allowed to report without fear of violence.”
Also included in this official statement, is Smith’s announcement that the Australian government is deeply disturbed by the “increasing lawlessness” in some parts of Mindanao.
The statement came late last week, just as local authorities spent its fourth day digging up bodies of close to 60 people who were murdered in the town of Ampatuan on their way to witnessing the filing of the certificate of candidacy of vice-mayor Esmael Mangudadatu.
The victims, mostly female kin (including the wife and sisters) of Mangudadatu and members of the media who was supposed to cover the filing of COC for the gubernatorial race next year, were all brutally killed by gunshot with some showing signs of torture.
Now known in the Philippines as the Maguindanao massacre, it is now regarded as one of the worst murders in the country during peacetime and also the worst single loss to life of journalists in one day in the whole world.
Smith said that his country, a major economic and political partner of the Philippines, is concerned over “signs of increasing lawlessness in parts of Mindanao”.
“We are deeply concerned…that signs of increasing lawlessness in parts of Mindanao will inhibit our development cooperation activities and prevent the benefits of these programs reaching those who need them most,” he said, while also noting that Australia remains a “committed” development partner of the country.
A few times in the past, Australia has advised its citizens to avoid or be cautious in visiting Mindanao because of terrorist threats. However, it has remained supportive of the country’s efforts to keeping peace and order in the region.
Meanwhile, Australia has issued no travel ban to its citizens in the aftermath of the massacre.