By Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews
SHARIFF AGUAK (MindaNews/14 May) — Maguindanao- Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu , political opponent of the Ampatuan clan, arrived for his proclamation at the Maguindanao Provincial Capitol in Shariff Aguak town on Friday afternoon aboard an Army Simba tank.
Mangudadatu rode in the 11.9-ton tank with some of his relatives all the way from his hometown in Buluan town to this bailiwick of the Ampatuan clan.
“I don’t want a repeat of the Nov. 23 massacre,” Mangudadatu told reporters referring to the massacre of 58 civilians including 32 journalists in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao last Nov. 23, 2009.
Fifty-two persons on a convoy from Buluan and six others who happened to pass at the wrong time, were stopped at gunpoint along the highway of Ampatuan by about a hundred armed men believed led by Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr., and herded to a mountainous area where they were massacred.
Aside from Andal Jr., also implicated in the mass murder are the patriarch, Andal Ampatuan Sr and his siblings. They are presently detained in Bicutan.
One of the masacare victims was Mangudadatu’s wife, Genalyn.
Mangudadatu said Army officers advised him to ride in the tank after several threats were received against his life. “There were threats that bombs were placed along the highway set to explode when I passed,” he said.
Mangudadatu was proclaimed as winner in the Maguindanao provincial race after he got 153, 706 votes over his close rival Ombra Sinsuat who garnered only 141,001 votes.
The Ampatuan patriarch, who ran for vice governor, lost to Ismael “Dustin” Mastura who got 173,471 votes. Ampatuan got only 142,783 votes.
Mangudadatu said the one-hour ride to Shariff Aguak was uneventful except the time they reached Sitio Malating, Ampatuan where the convoy of his wife and the other victims were flagged down.
He said he remembered his wife, Genalyn, last words to him before going to Shariff Aguak to file his candidacy for governorship in Maguindanao province.
“She told me she was willing to die so that tyranny in Maguindanao will end,” Mangudadatu said.
Mangudadatu admits the publicity generated following the massacre help him clinch the governorship in Maguindanao.
“Because of them (victims), a new age has arrived in Maguindanao,” he said. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)