Myrna Reblando lost her husband in 2009 along with at least 57 other victims [Marga Ortigas/Al Jazeera]

She calls herself a simple woman: A simple wife whose simple life was turned upside down when her husband’s body was found bullet-ridden on a quiet hilltop in the southern Philippines.

Alongside him, also dead, were more than 20 members of a prominent political family and over 30 other journalists. The alleged perpetrators were members of another political family who were also part of the ruling elite.

It was a political, family feud and allegedly executed with the help of unscrupulous soldiers and police. Reblando’s husband had become collateral damage.

This was not uncommon in the part of the Philippines they lived in. A separatist war had been raging for over 40 years. Lawlessness was rampant, and warlords jostled for power.

But never had such a feud resulted in something so heinous and in such magnitude.

The nation was stunned, but no one wanted to point a finger at any culprits. That is, until frightened witnesses began to step forward.

The first two that did came out publicly by speaking to Al Jazeera. They thought telling their story would help protect them. They were wrong.

Several members of the then ruling Ampatuan clan are now in custody, facing multiple murder charges. They had long enjoyed the protection of being close allies of then president Gloria Arroyo, but nothing could cloak them after the massacre.

For many, they represented institutionalised corruption, perverse patronage, and a variety of other deep-rooted ills of Philippine society.

With a group of other massacre widows, Reblando brought her case to the courts. Justice has been slow, and now, one by one, witnesses are getting killed.


Myrna’s story is not new. Nor is it uncommon in the Philippines. The size of the massacre was what shocked both the country and the world. But government supported war lords and extra judicial killings are the norm here. Perhaps one day when the U.S. ceases to support the corruption with  money, weapons and troops things will change. For now though… it is business as usual. 

In the first two years of our Presidents rule there have been at least a dozen extra judicial killings. The head of the Supreme Court was forced to step down less than a month ago. The previous President has just been granted bail. Last week the Roman Catholic church declared that it was ‘open war’ against the president. 

Just business as usual in this far flung corner of the Dying American Empire 

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