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From the album: “November 23 Ampatuan Town Massacre” by Pastor Dann Pantoja – part 1 of 3

Posted by darbs on December 2, 2009

The images and the captions of this blog entry were the personal accounts/musings of Pastor Dann Pantoja at  the  “Ampatuan Massacre” ground zero.

The Arrival::

Published with written permission:

Dann Pantoja

The massacre happened 4.5 kilometers off the highway connecting the provinces of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat.

The Mangudadatu Convoy was stopped by some 100 heavily armed-men and they were forcibly led into that dirt road in front of me.

On my left is the direction leading to the Province of Sultan Kudarat. The Mangudadatu Convoy was stopped right there, where the AFP military tanks are parked. Then, the perpetrators led the convoy towards my direction, then went off the cement road.

On my right is the direction leading to Ampatuan town proper. Those were the military personnel who checked my identity before they allowed me to take photos and enter the crime site.

With the permission of the military authorities, I started driving towards the heavily guarded massacre site.

As I was driving, I was imagining what would have been the thoughts and feelings of those 64 people who were brought here to be killed.

What would be the most important aspects of the lives of each of those 64 people that would have influenced and filled their last thoughts and feelings?

I’m always amazed at the beauty of Mindanao. I have been adopted by a Maguindanao family, so this is my adopted province. God! Why should this beautiful land be stained by blood through war, and specifically, by this barbaric act?

Here is a group of houses on a hilltop. From their perspective, they would have seen what really happened on that fateful November 23 mid-morning.

Here’s a view from their perspective. What did they see? What did they hear? How did they feel? Would they have the courage to talk about the truth where truth-telling could mean torture and death for themselves and their whole families?

This is the first sight I saw.

The perpetrators used a backhoe to squeeze three vehicles, reportedly while the victims were in those vehicles, then they buried them.

This massacre must have been well-planned. Heavy equipments like this did not just happen to be in this site by coincidence.

According to the police authorities, it takes more than 24 hours to dig this giant burial place for people and vehicles.

Whoever planned this attempted crime-hiding must have a very dark imagination–and a vast amount of resources! Yet, Maguindanao is the third poorest province in this very poor country.

I wonder what was going on with the thoughts and feelings of the perpetrators? What happened to their conscience?

Here’s another vehicle they just dug up.

It’s one of the media vehicles.

It’s the UNTV crews’ vehicle.

When journalists in a certain society are killed for telling the truth, it is an indicator that such a society is abnormal. But I’m more scared when the society becomes too callous and regards the abnormal as normal.

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The man behind the camera with his wife:

Photo Credit: mennonitechurch.ca

January 20, 2006
-by Dan Dyck

Winnipeg, Man. — Dann Pantoja, a former Maoist revolutionary, thanks a driving offense for getting him on track to a gospel of peace.

In January, 2006, together with his wife Joji, he will begin a peace ministry in Mindanao, Philippines, a Christian-Muslim conflicted region in his home country. A partnership including their congregation, Peace Mennonite Church (Richmond, BC), Mennonite Church Canada Witness, and a community of family and friends will support the ministry.

Pantoja rejected Christianity in his youth. It was a hopeless path, he says, to achieving the political reform so badly needed in the corrupt Marcos regime, which featured death squads as a daily part of life in the densely populated archipelago. He grew up next door to the largest US military base in Southeast Asia, and watched as foreign soldiers on leave visited his community, taking advantage of freedoms and pleasures of which he could only dream.

Courtesy Mennonite Church Canada: http://www.mennonitechurch.ca/news/releases/2006/01/Release08.htm)

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Please Visit Facebook’s: Healing Justice – A Path to Peace: Mindanao Civil Society Recommendations on the Ampatuan Massacre


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List of Pastor Dann’s “From the album on November 23 Ampatuan Town Massacre”

  • From the album: “November 23 Ampatuan Town Massacre” by Pastor Dann Pantoja – part 1 of 3
  • From the album: “November 23 Ampatuan Town Massacre” by Pastor Dann Pantoja – part 3 of 3


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