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President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has declared martial law in Maguindanao, a senior Malacañang official announced Saturday.
The declaration, contained in Proclamation 1959, also suspended the writ of habeas corpus in the province, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita told an early Palace briefing.
Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the President took the “bold step” in answer to the cries of the more than 50 victims of the massacre in Maguindanao last November 23.
The Ampatuans, a powerful clan in the province, have been tagged as suspects in the killings and the crackdown on members of the family began with the arrest of Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., days after what has been considered as the worst election-related violence in the country.
“Condition of peace and order in Maguindanao has deteriorated to the extent that government mechanisms are not functioning thus endangering public safety . . .” Ermita said, reading from the proclamation.
He said Malacanang would officially inform Congress about the proclamation, which Congress has 48 hours to act on.