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Pregnant woman among 46 massacred in Philippi -

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ELEANOR HALL: There are concerns in the Philippines about more political violence as the numbers of
dead from this week's massacre rise.

At least 46 bodies have now been recovered. Police and soldiers found 22 bodies in a hillside mass
grave, adding to the 24 people who were shot to death in what was already the country's worst case
of election violence.

President Gloria Arroyo has declared a state of emergency and has vowed to arrest the perpetrators
but the scale of the violence has shocked locals, as Michael Vincent reports.

MICHAEL VINCENT: The Philippines is accustomed to shootings, bombings, vendettas, but the extent of
this massacre, believed to have been carried out by one political family on another, has people
stunned.

One of the victims is now confirmed to have been a pregnant woman.

Renato Reyes is leading a protest vigil in the capital to condemn the killings.

RENATO REYES: What we are seeing is quite worse than the Wild Wild West or quite worse than what is
happening in Iraq because nowhere in the world do you have more than a dozen journalists killed in
one day. Nowhere in the world do you have 40 people abducted and killed in broad daylight.

MICHAEL VINCENT: The massacre of the at least 46 people accounted for so far is a new historic low
for the Philippines.

And even with all the recent conflicts around the world the deaths of the journalists also creates
a new international low point.

Aidan White is the general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists.

AIDAN WHITE: This is the worst single massacre, targeted killings of journalists that we've seen in
recent history anywhere in the world. The total number of journalists and media people killed is
still unclear. It may be up to 20 in this single incident. It's a really shocking event.

MICHAEL VINCENT: President Gloria Arroyo's response has been to declare a state of emergency and
she's ordered more troops and police into the area.

With confirmation that she has strong links to both the victims and alleged perpetrators of this
massacre, she's called on the Commission of Human Rights to ensure an impartial investigation.

GLORIA ARROYO: No effort will be spared to bring justice to the victims and hold the perpetrators
accountable to the full limit of the law. The chief of staff has ordered establishment of
checkpoints and chokepoints and as of last night the military elements were in place to preserve
peace in the area. Additional troops have also been deployed to the area last night to further
secure the area.

MICHAEL VINCENT: With less than a year of her term to go it's unclear whether President Gloria
Arroyo will be able to stem the violence.

Dr Ron May from the ANU has been observing the Philippines for the past 30 years.

RON MAY: Well we've become pretty used to violence in Mindanao, both over the separatist movement
and over local political issues, but this is certainly one that's fairly extreme. Not only in the
number of people killed but in the blatant nature of the killing and the fact that it hasn't been
restricted to local politicians, there are a number of journalists involved.

MICHAEL VINCENT: What's your analysis of President Arroyo's reaction to what's happened?

RON MAY: Well I guess in a sense it's predictable. I mean she is used to problems in Mindanao.
There's a substantial military presence down there already. The military and the national police
have been mobilised and her concern will be to ensure that this doesn't lead to further retaliation
and a more extensive outbreak of violence in the area.

MICHAEL VINCENT: How dangerous do you think next year's elections could be then?

RON MAY: Well we're used to seeing a fair bit of violence associated with Philippine elections and
that will probably occur again. Mindanao is always a major trouble spot, particularly in those
areas where there are these sorts of planned disputes going on for a while.

We have legislation in the Philippines of course designed to prevent dynasties being established in
politics but what we've found - and that limits the terms of members in various offices from
President right down to local mayor - what we're seeing however is that the politician who's done
his or her set of terms will arrange for a spouse or a son or daughter or a cousin or somebody to
stand and I think we can predict that there'll be, if the elections do go ahead in Maguindanao next
year, that there will be probably more violence going on there.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Philippines analyst Dr Ron May from State, Society and Governance Program at
the Australian National University, speaking to Michael Vincent about that political violence in
the Philippines.