Why The Philippines' Maguindanao Massacre Happened

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Even for a country long hardened to election violence, the massacre of at least 57 defenseless civilians on the main southern island of Mindanao, many of them relatives and supporters of a local politician and a large group of journalists, sets a new low. This troubled corner of the Philippines usually makes headlines for its long-running Muslim separatist rebellion. But the killings starkly exposed a nationwide malaise: the fierce competition for regional power among the country's small Élite of a few hundred families and clans that control an inordinate amount of the national wealth - and the desperate lengths some will go to protect their hold on power.

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