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Monthly Archives: November 2009

A complete list of the 30 Media Martyrs of Maguindanáo

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Of the 57 victims of the infamous Maguindanáo Massacre (others report 64), more than half were journalists. Here is the complete list so far (in alphabetical order) of the 30 Media Martyrs of Maguindanáo (compiled by the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists):

• Adolfo, Benjie—Gold Star Daily, Koronadal City
• Araneta, Henry—radio dzRH, General Santos City
• Arriola, Mark Gilbert “Mac-Mac”—UNTV, General Santos
• Bataluna, Rubello—Gold Star Daily, Koronadal
• Betia, Arturo—Periódico Iní, General Santos
• Cabillo, Romeo Jimmy—Midland Review, Tacurong City
• Cablitas, Marités—News Focus, General Santos
• Cachuela, Hannibal—Punto News, Koronadal
• Caniban, John—Periódico Iní, General Santos
• Dalmacio, Lea—Socsargen News, General Santos
• Decina, Noel—Periódico Iní, General Santos
• Dela Cruz, Gina—Saksi News, General Santos
• Dohillo, Eugene—UNTV, General Santos
• Duhay, Jhoy—Gold Star Daily, Tacurong
• Gatchalián, Santos—dxGO, Daváo City
• Legarte, Bienvenido Jr.—Prontiera News, Koronadal
• Lupogan, Lindo—Mindanáo Daily Gazette, Daváo City
• Maravilla, Ernesto “Bart”—Bombo Radyo, Koronadal
• Merisco, Rey—Periódico Iní, Koronadal
• Momay, Reynaldo “Bebot”—Midland Review, Tacurong
• Montaño, Marifé “Neneng”—Saksi News, General Santos
• Morales, Rosell—News Focus, General Santos
• Núñez, Victor—UNTV, General Santos
• Perante, Ronnie—Gold Star Daily correspondent, Koronadal
• Parcón, Joel—Prontiera News, Koronadal
• Razón, Fernando “Rani”—Periódico Iní, General Santos
• Reblando, Alejandro “Bong”—Manila Bulletin, General Santos
• Salaysay, Napoleón—Mindanáo Gazette, Cotabato City
• Subang, Ian—Socsargen Today, General Santos
• Teodoro, Andrés “Andy”—Central Mindanáo Inquirer, Tacurong

Remember 11/23/09

More than a hundred journalists have already been killed since Marcos was ousted in 1986. More than half of them –74 to be exact– were executed since 2001, when Arroyo and the military (with the “covert” support of the US government, of course) stole the presidency.

This massacre will never weaken the media. Especially the new mediathe bloggers.

This senseless violence has only strengthened our resolve to uphold the truth no matter what. We shall all continue the mission of The 30 Media Martyrs of Maguindanáo, whether in print or the airwaves or via the net.

So to all you demons in coat and tie (or in terno during SONAs), wallowing in power and bloody wealth inside your respective administrative buildings — BRING IT ON!

There is no way you can stop the Fourth Estate. And you can bet your ugly spouses and goblin-looking children with that.

Man, even his putong is branded: Lacoste!

*******

Special thanks to the Facebook group WE CONDEMN THE MAGUINDANÁO MASSACRE for the photos. Add them up on your Facebook account and show your support against this evil!

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PDI’s commitment to pursue justice for the victims of the Maguindanáo Massacre

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Strong commitment, thirst for justice, indignation, powerful words from my favorite source of news…

Commitment

WE WILL BE their witness.

We will retrace their steps, those early hours before their shocking extinction, when they, at least 27 journalists, set out for a day’s work. We will piece together the bloody shards of the crime—the point in the highway in Ampatuan country where the convoy in which they were part was waylaid, the guns that snuffed them out, the grassy field where they, along with the rest of the unfortunate lot, breathed their last.

We will approximate the horror, mindful of the limitations of words but galvanized by the same calling that ultimately led them to their doom.

We will keep asking the terrible question: How could this have happened?

Maguindanáo Massacre victims: you shall never ever be forgotten...

The mass murder in Maguindanáo on Nov. 23 has come to define our generation as journalists. Nowhere in our history as an endangered breed has a similar occurrence approached such a degree of enormity or the body count been so outrageously high. Yet a more significant aspect casts a large shadow on the crime—the climate of impunity that served as fertile ground for it to happen. Let not the staggering dimensions of the killings take the edge off that fact.

We will be their witness. Removed as we are from the arena of their toil, we will acknowledge the peculiar nature of their daily terrain as shaped by the unbridled, unabashed power that holds sway. We will presume that getting into the vehicles that made up the convoy heading to the Commission on Elections office in Shariff Aguak, thence to witness and record a process that would have made official Esmael Mangudadatu’s gubernatorial candidacy, they pushed trepidation aside and sought comfort in the idea, hitherto unshakable, that journalism is a power unto itself, sufficient to stand up to fear itself.

That they are dead now is heart-wrenching, and we will mourn their—our—having been proven wrong. Yet, despite having been crudely disabused of the idea that reporting on an event, for the benefit of the public that we are sworn to inform, is no longer a guarantee of even safe passage, we will persevere. For too long have we lived gripped by a particular tension as Gordimer had defined it: that of being participant and recorder of events—a necessary burden of writers and, by extension, journalists. And we will continue to record our times and the evil that men and women do even as we rail at oppression and injustice.

We will not lose sight of the fact that as many as 68 journalists, not counting the 27 murdered in Maguindanáo, have been killed since 2001, when Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took power. (Once upon a time, her husband, addressing a group of journalists in Negros, said no journalist on the island had been killed because “journalists here are responsible reporters.”) To Camus’ requirements of “courage in one’s life and talent in one’s work” we will add strength and commitment.

There will be justice for the 27 journalists (and the women and other civilians) who perished in the badlands of Maguindanáo.

We will be their witness. Though we may be under the gun, we will endure.

The reason behind the Maguindanáo Massacre…

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The below essay is currently a “hot item” among Filipino netizens. It’s a brilliant opinion about last Sunday’s horrendous Maguindanáo Massacre…

The Maguindanáo massacre predicts the eruption of wider violence and conflict as the nation heads towards the 2010 elections. Yet to dismiss this incident as “election-related” is to miss the fundamental political and economic implications of this evil deed. The massacre is rooted in the shift in politico-economic sources of violence and conflict in Muslim Mindanáo. It signifies the emergence of new-type warlords whose powers depend upon their control of a vast illegal and shadow economy and an ever-growing slice of internal revenue allotments (IRA). Both factors induce a violent addiction to political office.

Mindanáo scholars used to underscore the role of “local strong men” who were an essential component of the central state’s efforts to extend its writ over the region. The elite bargain was built upon the state’s willingness to eschew revenue generation and to grant politico-military dominance to a few Moro elites in exchange for the latter providing political thugs and armed militias to secure far-flung territories, fight the communists and separatists, and extend the administrative reach of the state.

The economic basis of the elite bargain has changed since then. Political office has become more attractive due to the billions of pesos in IRA remittances that electoral victory provides. The “winner-takes-all” nature of local electoral struggles in Muslim Mindanao also means that competition is costlier and bloodier. Meanwhile, political authority may enable control over the formal economy, but the bigger prize is the power to monopolize or to extort money from those engaged in the lucrative business of illegal drugs, gambling, kidnap-for-ransom, gun-running, and smuggling, among others. The piracy of software, CDs and DVDs, and the smuggling of pearls and other gemstones from China and Thailand are seen as micro and small enterprises. These illegal economies and a small formal sector comprise the “real” economy of Muslim Mindanáo.

The failure to appreciate how this underground economy, coupled with entitlements to massive government-to-government fund transfers, shapes prevailing notions of political legitimacy and authority in the region partly explains the inability of the central State to deal with lawlessness and conflict.

Political legitimacy in Muslim Mindanáo has very little to do with protecting people’s rights or providing basic services. People rarely depend on government for welfare provision, and are consequently averse to paying any taxes. People actually expect local leaders to pocket government resources, and are willing to look the other way so long as their clans dominate and they are given a small slice during elections. Legitimacy is all about providing protection to your fellow clan members by trumping the firepower of your competitors, leaving people alone, and forgetting about taxes. Click here for more!

Melodic melancholia

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Problems are supposed to make us strong.

We lost our maids. Nobody’s left to take care of our four kids ages seven months to nine years. Our apartment unit’s a big mess.

We still couldn’t find replacements.

Our issue with CHMI and PAG-IBIG Fund is still unresolved. The new house which we bought in Calambâ, La Laguna that was sold to us by CHMI is in danger of being cancelled. We’ve already paid more or less P100,000 of equity for that house. That is what I have to iron out today, the deadline they gave me.

Our two youngest boys, Jefe and Juanito, are still in Bacoor, Cavite, being taken care of by my wife’s relatives. But they’re contacting Yeyette; they said that they couldn’t take care of them anymore. Our two eldest, Krystal and Momay, have to fend for themselves alone in our apartment. We leave them there at night so that we could go to work. But, my golly, they’re too young…

My boss already talked to me about my performance and attendance. My performance is not that good because –he’s right– it has something to do with “dedication” issues; I have a hard time balancing my life as an employee and as a writer-historian. And I’ve been absent for a couple of days because of my domestic issues.

My wife’s performance is also under fire. She works in a call center, outbound. She was given a quota. She’s having difficulty in meeting them. For the past few days, her voice is not cooperating with her. Today, she completely lost her voice.

Our credit card debt is ballooning. I was supposed to pay everything today, but then…

…just a few minutes ago, my wife texted me that she lost her wallet with more than P4,000 and other valuables to a pickpocket while she was inside a jeepney on her way to assist Krystal and Momay in preparation for school.

My wife needed to see a doctor regarding her throat problems. But her medical card is inside her stolen wallet.

Both Yeyette and I freaked out last week because of these problems. We almost separated. We’ve patched things up, though. But our domestic troubles aren’t over yet.

Who will take care of our children? I still haven’t had enough sleep for days.

And then depression sets in.

Worse, the Muse seems to have forsaken me; I do not feel the “itch” in my hands anymore…

Problems are supposed to make us strong.

Is Malacañang Palace afraid of the Ampatuan clan?

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“Is this government afraid? Or inutile? Or simply powerless against the powers-that-be in Maguindanáo?” asked Carlos Isagani Zarate, secretary general of the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanáo, commenting on Malacañang Palace’s seemingly kid-gloved treatment of last Monday’s Maguindanáo Massacre.

Secretary Raúl González, chief presidential legal counsel, has this to say: “If we use the iron hand on them (Ampatuan political clan), they might fight back. We should take precaution. These are not ordinary people.”

They might fight back. They might effin’ fight back. So Fu©k!N what if they fight back?! And by making that cowardly statement of “they might fight back” and admitting that the Ampatuans “are not ordinary people” only shows this government’s knowledge of the Ampatuan warlords’ capability of raising hell.

Why not give them hell if that is their game?

Because… there you have it — Secretary González already gave hints about this administration’s C-O-W-A-R-D-I-C-E.

Maguindanáo Massacre: is our country the most dangerous place for journalists?

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Is our country the most dangerous place for journalists?

Throughout the years, countless media men in the Philippines have died in the line of duty. It is not uncommon for human rights groups to criticize the government over its lack of ability to counter these harrowing tales of violence against members of the Fourth Estate. Not too long ago, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility declared the Philippines as the second most dangerous place for media practitioners, second only to war-torn Iraq!

Some found this declaration offensive, yet many claim this to be true. But early last Monday, all debate regarding this matter was silenced when more or less 50 people –30 of whom were journalists– were abducted and brutally murdered. All in the name of political warlordship.

Campaign season hasn’t even begun.

It’s saddening how our country makes news. Recently, Manny Pacquiáo and Efren Peñaflorida made headlines, bringing glory to our country. But all that fame and honor were quickly wiped out by this bestiality courtesy of (allegedly) Datu Unsay town mayor Datu Andal Ampatuan, Jr.’s men. If they are men at all.

The Ampatuan warlords of Maguindanáo are known political allies of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Is this the way she wants her administration to end — with a big and bloody exclamation point?

But before Malacañang Palace answers that question (if they ever will), let us go back to the original query: is the Philippines the most dangerous place for journalists?

Sadly, Iraq will have to move down from being number one.

*******

Inquirer man recounts harrowing tales of survival

TACURÓNG CITY, Philippines—Ian Subang, a long-time friend and former colleague in the now defunct Gensan Media Cooperative, was in his usual jovial mood, poking fun and exchanging jokes with us.

Alejandro “Bong” Reblando, Manila Bulletin reporter covering the Socsksargen area—South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos—was, as always, in his fighting mood—insistent and persistent with his own opinion.

He always came late to media events, the reason why we used to tease him “The Late” Bong Reblando. Now, he will forever be called such.

That was last Monday morning, a few hours before the mass killing took place in Maguindanáo province.

The painful truth that these guys together with 32 other media colleagues met death in the hands of a ruthless band of goons just won’t sink into my consciousness, not even now.

Ian would usually play the role of a clown and he could easily make anyone in the group smile with his jokes.

Bong, the most senior among us, was contented with the role of big brother to us. He was already a radio reporter when I was in high school way back in the 1980s.

Early Monday morning, a few hours before they were abducted and slaughtered, we were enjoying a breakfast of “pastel”— a kind of stew—served to us by our host.

An intense yet cordial exchange of ideas ensued as this reporter, Reblando and two other journalists discussed with ARMM Assemblyman Khadafy Mangudadatu the security concerns and the scenarios that may arise later that day.

Subang and his group, including several other reporters, were gathered outside the living room of Mangudadatu’s mansion in Buluan town, Maguindanao.

They were waiting for the result of our brainstorming inside. There were just six of us in that discussion—Mangudadatu legal counsel Cynthia Oquendo-Ayon, Khadafy, Reblando, Joseph Jubelag, Paul Bernáldez and myself.

We were insisting that reporters covering the scheduled filing of certificate of candidacy of Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu must be assured of their safety. Toto is eyeing the gubernatorial seat in Maguindanao.

Toto had requested for security escorts from Chief Superintendent Paisal Umpa, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanáo (ARMM) police regional director, but his request was turned down.

He turned to the Philippine Army for help but his request was also denied.

Had the police or military provided security escorts, the mass slaughter of defenseless women and journalists might have been prevented.

According to the Mangudadatus, a week before the massacre, there were massive movements of the Ampatuan’s armed followers—police, civilian volunteers and Cafgu members—in the area.

Believing in the power of the media, Mangudadatu, who felt helpless then, asked help from the media.

He requested several journalists—through Henry Araneta of DZRH—to cover the scheduled filing of his certificate of candidacy at the Commission on Elections provincial office in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanáo.

Araneta managed to invite 37 journalists from the cities of General Santos, Tacurong and Koronadal.

“Maybe, they will not harm us if journalists are watching them,” Mangudadatu said.

Mangudadatu disclosed that he organized a group of women led by his wife, Genalyn, elder sister Vice Mayor Eden Mangudadatu of Mangudadatu town, Bai Farinna Mangudadatu, the youngest of the Mangudadatu siblings, and lawyers Cynthia Oquendo-Ayon and Connie Brizuela.

The gubernatorial aspirant claimed reports had reached him that the Ampatuans had threatened to chop him into pieces once he filed his COC with the Comelec.

“Under our tradition, Muslim women are being respected. They should not be harmed just like innocent children and the elders,” Mangudadatu stressed.

Governor Andal Ampatuan ran unopposed in the 2007 elections.

Mangudadatu claimed that the Ampatuans were considered above the law, warlords and political demigods in Maguindanáo.

But, he said, someone must come to the fore to bring about change and improve the lives of the Bangsamoro people.

He said that women from Buluan should be the ones to file his COC, no security escorts, only journalists to avoid creating tension.

Eden, along with his sister-in-law and younger sister, was in a jovial mood before the departure. She was saying that Muslim women should play a more active role in Maguindanáo politics to attain genuine social change and economic progress.

“This is women power in action. Let’s help our men chart a better future for the province,” she was heard as saying.

We were confident nothing bad would happen as some of us in the convoy had been frequent visitors to the Maguindanao provincial capitol.

Even while inside the vehicles, the group enjoyed each other’s company. There was no hint of the heartbreaking and vicious fate awaiting them.

All in all, there were 58 persons—37 journalists, 16 Muslim women who handcarried Mangudadatu’s COC and five drivers—in the convoy.

After several attempts, I was able to contact Major General Alfredo Caytón, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, through a mobile phone.

He gave an assurance that the national highway going to Shariff Aguak had already been cleared and was safe for travel. He even added that police checkpoints littered the long route from Isulan town in Sultan Kudarat to Shariff Aguak.

Five convoy vehicles left Buluan around 9:30 a.m. Monday. The lead vehicle was an L-300 van of UNTv.

Aside from UNTv reporter Victor Núñez, his cameraman and driver, Paul Bernáldez and myself joined in.

However, while the convoy was refuelling in Buluan, I decided to transfer to Joseph Jubelag’s vehicle to accompany him. Bernáldez followed suit.

The five-vehicle convoy went ahead and we just told them we will follow right away.

We decided to drop by BF Lodge in Tacuróng City where we stayed the night before to get some valuables and meet some personal necessities.

I didn’t expect that such digression would save our lives. I should have been there. I should have been killed together with them.

Two hotel attendants approached me and revealed that two unidentified men riding on separate motorcycles had left barely three minutes earlier.

The hotel personnel claimed the two men were asking for the names of journalists covering Mangudadatu’s filing of COC.

Luckily, the hotel management did not give any name.

This made us change our minds and we decided not to go to Shariff Aguak.

On our way back to Buluan, we tried several times but failed to establish contact with our media colleagues in the convoy.

Upon arrival in Buluan, the vice mayor told us that all the five vehicles had been seized by the Ampatuans’ armed followers.

Not only journalists, family members, relatives and supporters of Mangudadatus were abducted and killed.

Military sources disclosed that several other innocent motorists from Buluan and Tacuróng City were seized and summarily executed on mere suspicion that they, too, were followers of the Mangudadatus.

Out of the 34 journalists abducted and brutally killed, only 25 were identified.

They were Ian Subang, Leah Dalmacio, Gina Dela Cruz and Maritess Cablitas, all of Mindanáo Focus, a General Santos City-based weekly community newspaper; Bart Maravilla of Bombo Radyo-Koronadal City; Jhoy Duhay of Mindanáo Goldstar Daily; Henry Araneta of DZRH and Andy Teodoro of Central Mindanáo Inquirer.

Neneng Montano of Saksi weekly newspaper; Alejandro “Bong” Reblando of Manila Bulletin; Victor Núñez of UnTv; Macmac Arriola, UnTV cameraman; and Jimmy Cabillo, a radioman based in Koronadal City.

Rey Merisco, Ronnie Perante, Jun Legarta, Val Cachuela and Humberto Mumay, all Koronadal City-based journalists.

Joel Parcón, Noel Decena, John Caniba, Art Belia, Ranie Razón and Nap Salaysay.

On Monday evening, gory scenes of slain media colleagues kept flashing in my mind. I didn’t have a decent sleep, for the very first time in my life.

Once again, several working journalists shed their blood in the name of press freedom.

This, however, will not deter us or discourage us from doing our job as journalists.

Underpaid and under threat, be that as it may, we will continue answering the call of our beloved profession.

With blood on their hands?

What if Allen Ginsberg was a Filipino?

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WHAT IF ALLEN GINSBERG WAS A FILIPINO?
Or how I syncopated the essence of “Hadda be Playin’ on the Jukebox”
José Mario Alas

Hadda be flashing like the Philippine Daily Inquirer
Hadda be playing on Wowowee
Hadda be loudmouthed on The Buzz!
Hadda be announced over loud speakers
The military and the Abu Sayyaf are in cahoots
Hadda be said in socialite language
Hadda be said in Pinoy headlines
Aguinaldo, Magsaysay, and Aquino stretched and smiled and got doublecrossed by low life international goons & agents
Gay bankers with criminal connections
Dope pushers in NBI working with dope pushers from China working with big time syndicate Parañaque City
Hadda be said with a big mouth
Hadda be moaned over factory foghorns
Hadda be chattered on barber shop news broadcast
Hadda be screamed in a rural slaughterhouse
Hadda be yelled in the plazas where young lovers are petting it out
Hadda be howled on the streets by newsboys to jeepney barkers
Hadda be foghorned into Pásig River
Hadda echo under hard hats
Hadda turn up the volume in cheeky high school proms
Hadda be written on unused library books, footnoted
Hadda be in headlines of Sagad, Hataw, and Toro
Hadda be barked over TV
Hadda be heard in side alleys thru KTV bars
Hadda be sent via SMS
Hadda be cellphones ringing, comedians stopped dead in the middle of a comedy bar joke in Las Piñas,
Hadda be GMA, NEDA Neri, Mayor Atienza, and COMELEC Ábalos golfing together weekends or whenever/wherever —
As reported by almost all dailies across the islands
Hadda be the Freemasons and the neocolonialists together
Started war on Mindanáo, poison on Recto, assassination of Luna and Aquino
Hadda be dope cops and the kidnap-for-ransom crooks
Kidnapped all those filthy-rich scions in Chinatown
Hadda be the NBI and the military working together in cahoots against the leftists
Let Lucky Manzano campaign for both mommy and daddy… family relations, party fidelities, political madness
Hadda be religious goons bribing cross-eyed officials with vote-rich members, singing gospel gobbledygook, praising money and recruitment
Hadda be heard inside the classrooms:
Nationwide brainwashing by UP professors
Hadda be the police, and organized crime, and the military together
Bigger than Gloria, bigger than ZTE-NBN!!!
Hadda be a gorged throat full of murder
Hadda be mouth and ass a solid mass of rage
A red hot head, a scream in the back of the throat
Hadda be in Obama’s brain
Hadda be in Clinton’s mouth
Hadda be the Pinoy language committe, pidginizing our tongue,
erasing our identity, forgetting who we are, what we were…
The Palace, the military, the billionaire cronies, the police, UP historians teaching the leyenda negra,
Protestants and Freemasons,
Dope pushers and sadists,
One big set of criminal gangs working together in cahoots
Hitmen, murderers everywhere, outraged, on the make
Secret drunk brutal dirty rich
On top of a heap of slovenly prisons, industrial cancer, burned plastic bags, garbage cities, Hollywood movies, Erap’s resentments
Hadda be the rulers, wanted law and order they got rich on
Wanted protection, status quo, wanted junkies for poll watchers, wanted influence, wanted Magsaysay to die in an air crash, wanted war over the Spratlys for oil to feed their diamond-laced cats
Hadda be the police and organized crime and the military and Gary V.
Multinational capitalists’ strong arms squads,
Private detective agencies for the very rich
And their armies, navies, and air force bombing rival political clans and their hapless supporters.
Hadda be neocolonialism, the vortex of this RAGE
This “gobbleization”
Man to man
Nation to nation
Hayden to Katrina
Horses’ heads in the haciendero‘s bed, Luisita turf and farmers’ rallies, hit men, gang wars across political landscapes,
Bombing Basilan with “firecrackers” will not settle the score (because they never wanted to settle the score for hunger for funds)
Joma’s red democracy bumped off with the Palace’s pots and pans, a warning to rural local governments
Secret armies embraced for decades, the military and the Palace keep each other’s secrets, the Freemasons and the anti-Catholics/Protestants never hit their own,
The KKK and Ku Klux Klan are one mind
Brute force and full of enmity
One mind, brute force, and full of enmity!
One mind, brute force, and full of enmity!
One mind, brute force, and full of enmity!
One mind, brute force, and full of enmity!
It hadda be rich, it hadda be powerful,
Hadda hire history from US universities
Hadda murder in Indonesia — 500,000
Hadda murder in Indochina — 2,000,000
Hadda murder in Czechoslovakia
Hadda murder in Chile
Hadda murder in Russia…
Hadda murder kids over 10 in Sámar
Hadda murder in the Philippines — 1,250,000

Hadda milk us more till we fall apart…

11/24/09

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