The Secretary General is saddened by reports of the brutal killing of more than 50 civilians in Maguindanao province, Southern Philippines. He condemns this heinous crime committed in the context of a local election campaign, a statement from the Secretary Generals office read.
Ban called for the perpetrators of the heinous crime to be brought to justice.
President Arroyo declared on Tuesday a state of emergency in Maguindanao province following Mondays killings, which have been described as the worst election-related violence in the nations history.
The Secretary General extends heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and hopes that no effort will be spared to bring justice and to hold the perpetrators accountable, the statement said.
Outgoing US Ambassador Kristie Kenney said such barbaric acts violate the most fundamental principles of human rights and democracy.
On behalf of all American and Filipino employees of the Embassy, Ambassador Kenney offers heartfelt condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the victims, the US embassy statement said.
We strongly believe that a thorough, rapid, and transparent investigation must be conducted, and those responsible must be brought to swift justice, Kenney said.
I condemn in the strongest possible terms the barbaric killing of innocent civilians, including women, journalists and lawyers, who were preparing to participate in the electoral process in the Philippines, said European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner.
I call for calm in the period leading up to the forthcoming elections scheduled for May 2010. In the face of this atrocity, the rule of law and democracy have to prevail, she said.
British Ambassador Stephen Lillie said: I condemn this brutal massacre of innocent civilians, including women, journalists and lawyers. I hope that the authorities in the Philippines will take urgent action to bring the perpetrators to justice and prevent further escalation of violence in the run-up to next year's elections here.
Effective action will be crucial in maintaining confidence in the Philippines' commitment to protect human rights, he added.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch said the massacre was an effect of the failure of the Arroyo administration to hold accountable perpetrators of unexplained killings.
It urged the government to initiate an independent probe on the murders to be led by the National Bureau of Investigation. The possible involvement of state forces in the Maguindanao massacre means that security personnel shouldn’t be allowed to interfere in an independent investigation.
Extrajudicial killings will continue to be a serious problem in the Philippines until they are competently, transparently, and impartially investigated, and perpetrators, including members of security forces, are fully prosecuted, Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said.
The history of election-related violence in the Philippines makes the lead up to the May 2010 elections a period of special concern, Pearson said.