Massacre Highlights Philippines’ Clan-Based Politics

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has talked tough since grisly details emerged last week of a massacre in the Muslim-majority province of Maguindanao, vowing that "no effort will be spared to bring justice to the victims and hold the perpetrators accountable to the full limit of the law."

Arroyo later declared martial law in the province, and on Monday, Nov. 30, her press secretary assured journalists that the government is doing everything to bring the guilty parties to justice at the earliest possible time. "Even as we speak now, soldiers and policemen are conducting house-to-house searches," said Cerge Remonde in a hastily called media briefing. "Guns are being confiscated, arrests are being made, and cases are being filed."

But Arroyo's words amount to little more than rhetoric in a country where clan-based allegiances dominate the political landscape.

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