Ampatuan patriarch is out but other massacre suspects and their wives win top posts

SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao (MindaNews/15 May) – The Ampatuan patriarch, Datu Andal Ampatuan, Sr., lost his bid to become vice governor of Maguindanao but ten other clan members implicated in the November 23, 2009 massacre, won in Monday’s elections.

At least 12 prominent members of the clan are implicated in the massacre, six of them detained in Bicutan, Metro Manila (Ampatuan Sr. and Junior, mayor of Datu Unsay town; ARMM Governor Datu Zaldy; Datu Anwar, detained mayor of Shariff Aguak; and Sajid, former Vice Governor and OIC Governor; and the patriarch’s son in law, Datu Akmad M. Ampatuan) while six others are still at large (grandsons Saudi Jr., Bahnarin and Datu Anwar “Ipi” Ampatuan, Jr.; Kanor Datumanong Ampatuan , Datu Mama Ampatuan and Datu Norodin Ampatuan).

Of these 12, only Andal Jr. and Zaldy did not run for any elective post but they fielded their wives. The rest, including the patriarch, filed their certificates of candidacy before the deadline on December 1, just a week after the massacre..

Only two of the 12 were defeated: the patriarch and his grandson, Bahnarin Ampatuan. Bahnarin, who figured in a murder case in Davao City a few years ago, was elected vice mayor of Mamasapano in 2007 but succeeded as mayor by January 2009 when the mayor, his father Akmad or Tato, was named OIC Vice Governor of Maguindanao after the abolition of Shariff Kabunsuan province and its reintegration to the mother province of Maguindanao.

Andal Junior, who would have run for governor, dug his own political grave on November 23, 2009, when he led about a hundred armed men in stopping along the national highway in Ampatuan town, the convoy that would have brought the certificate of candidacy of his then potential rival, Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, to the provincial office of the Commission on Elections in the next town, Shariff Aguak.

At least 58 persons were killed, 32 of them from the media in the worst pre-election crime in the history of the country.

Zaldy’s term as ARMM Governor ends on September 30, 2011.

Andal Junior’s first wife, Bai Reshal Santiago-Ampatuan, won the mayoralty of Datu Unsay town even before the voting began. The Commission on Elections declared her two rivals disqualified for allegedly not being residents of the area, in a promulgation dated May 6.

But Zaldy’s wife Bai Johaira “Bongbong” Midtimbang-Ampatuan, and her slate – vice mayor and eight councilors — had a clean sweep in Datu Hoffer Ampatuan as early as the filing of candidacy. They all ran unopposed.

The couple’s eldest daughter, 21-year old Bai Noraila Kristina, is now a councilor. Johaira had administered the town earlier, having been named by the ARMM Governor, her husband, as OIC Mayor. The town is one of three new towns created by the ARMM’s Regional Legislative Assembly. Under the ARMM laws, the ARMM Governor appoints OICs.

Andal Senior ran for vice governor of Maguindanao against three opponents, including his daughter, Shaydee Ampatuan-Abutazil. The neophyte politician and reluctant candidate, Ismael “Dustin” Veloso Mastura, won the vice-gubernatorial race by a lead of at least 30,000 votes.

The new governor, Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, ran against Ampatuan allies Datu Ombra Sinsuat and Midpantao Midtimbang.

Anwar, Sr., detained three-term mayor of Shariff Aguak, ran for and won the vice mayoralty
while his wife Zahara Upam, won the mayoralty.

Three of their children also ran for and won council seats in Shariff Aguak: Anhara, Anwar Jr. (also known as Datu Ipi) and Rowella while another child, Manny Upam Ampatuan, ran for and won as councilor of Datu Saudi Ampatuan.

Anwar Sr. and Anwar Jr. are implicated in the massacre. The senior is detained, the junior has yet to be arrested. When Zahara assumes the mayoralty, Anwar Sr. may still be in detention and so under the law of succession, the first councilor succeeds. But the first councilor happens to be the Junior who is at large. A sibling, Anhara, ranked second.

Sajid, OIC Governor from January to shortly before the massacre, when Andal Senior took over, ran for and won a seat in the Provincial Board while his wife, Bai Zandria Sinsuat Ampatuan won as mayor of Shariff Saydona Mustapha even before election day. The Comelec disqualified her lone opponent, Mando Kambal Bituanen, for allegedly not being a resident of the area.

Zandria’s brother-in-law, Zaldy, had earlier named her OIC mayor of the new town.

In Mamasapano, as in other towns, the Ampatuans fielded two candidates to ensure victory. Mayor Baharin Ampatuan, implicated in the massacre but still at large, ran for mayor along with his brother Tahirodin Benzar Ampatuan and two other candidates.

Tahirodin Benzar Ampatuan won.

And so did their father, Akmad “Tato” Masukat Ampatuan, Sr., husband of the patriarch’s eldest daughter, Rebecca.

The senior Ampatuan was elected Mamasapano mayor in 2007 but appointed in early 2009 by his brother in law, Zaldy Ampatuan, as OIC Vice Governor of Maguindanao.

The detained father ran for vice mayor against his daughter Lady Sha-honey and two others. The detainee won. The number one councilor is also an Ampatuan, Mahir M. Ampatuan. .

Saudi Jr., also implicated in the massacre, ran and won another term as mayor of Datu Saudi Ampatuan. His brother, Saudi III, won the vice mayoralty while Saudi’s wife Jehan-jehan Lepail is number one councilor.

If Saudi Jr., can’t sit as mayor, Saudi III will assume the post and Jehan-Jehan will assume the post of vice mayor.

Saudi’s mother, Soraida, ran for and won the vice mayoralty of Parang town.

In Datu Salibo town, two other Ampatuans implicated in the massacre won Kanor as vice mayor and Mama as councilor.

Earlier, only nine Ampatuans were implicated in the massacre: Ampatuan, Jr.,was charged with multiple murder on December 1 while the rest were to go through preliminary investigation: Ampatuan, Sr., Nords Ampatuan, Akmad Ampatuan, Saudi Ampatuan, Jr., Bahnarin A. Ampatuan, Sajid Islam Uy Ampatuan, Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan, Sr. and Datu Zaldy “Puti” U. Ampatuan.

An amended complaint, however, was filed before the Regional Trial Court Branch 221 under Judge Josephine Reyes-Solis in early February, implicating 19 other Ampatuans for a total of 28, only 12 of whom are prominent. The name of Akmad Ampatuan, OIC mayor of Datu Salibo town, was dropped from the list of respondents. The OIC mayor ran for and won the mayoralty of Datu Salibo along with Kanor Ampatuan as vice mayor and Datu Mama Ampatuan as councilor Both Kanor and Mama have been implicated in the massacre.

The panel of investigating prosecutors in a joint resolution dated February 5 said some of those “positively identified by witnesses” to have participated in the carnage were 11 Ampatuans: Ampatuan, Jr., Datu Kanor Ampatuan, Datu Bahnarin A. Ampatuan, Datu Mama Ampatuan, Datu Sajid Islam U. Ampatuan, Datu Anwar Ampatuan, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Jr., Datu Ulo Ampatuan, Datu Ipi Ampatuan, Datu Harris Ampatuan, Datu Moning Ampatuan. Also implicated in the mass murder were Mogira Hadji Anggulat, Parido Zangkala Gogo, Jun Pendatun, Kagi Faizal and Sukarno Badal.

But the panel added that “the confluence of events before and immediately after the commission of the offense leads us to no other inference “than that respondents Andal Ampatuan, Sr., Datu Zaldy “Puti” U. Ampatuan, Datu Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan, Sr., Datu Norodin Ampatuan, and Datu Jimmy Ampatuan or five Ampatuans “connived with the actual perpetrators.”

Of the 16 Ampatuans named as perpetrators and conspirators, 12 are known while there is little information about the real first names of Datu Ulo, Datu Harris, Datu Moning and Datu Jimmy.

Comelec records show 68 Ampatuans ran in this year’s election, 50 of them carrying the surname while the remaining 18 use Ampatuan as their middle name. Of the 50, at least 23 candidates are directly related to Andal Ampatuan, Sr. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)