More Ampatuans win as Comelec disqualifies opponents

SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao (MindaNews/09 May) – At least two more Ampatuan wives  have won the May 10 elections even before the actual polling. Reason? The Commission on Elections has disqualified their opponents.

Bai Reshal Santiago Ampatuan, first wife of detained Datu Unsay mayor Datu Andal Ampatuan, Jr. (the principal suspect in the November 23 massacre of at least 58 persons, 32 of them journalists, in  Ampatuan town, Maguindanao),  will be the new mayor of Datu Unsay town as her opponents Aisa Salman Paglala (Ind) and Said Sinapal Salik, Sr;, have been disqualified “for not being registered voters in their respective municipalities where they seek to be elected.”

The disqualification is contained in an en banc Comelec Resolution promulgated on May 6 which denied the petition/opposition of  56 candidates in six towns in Maguindanao and one town in Davao del Sur who were disqualified  under Comelec Minute Resolution 09-0946 for not being registered voters in their area. The Comelec en banc affirmed the Minute Resolution.

Bai Zandria Sinsuat Ampatuan, wife of Datu Sajid Islam, the patriarch’s youngest son with first wife Bai Laila Uy Ampatuan,  will be the  mayor of Shariff Saydona since her lone opponent, Mando Kambal Bituanen, has been disqualified.

Datu Zaldy  Ampatuan’s wife, Bai Johaira “Bongbong” Midtimbang has long been a winner. She and her entire slate which includes eldest daughter Noraila, are running unopposed in Datu Hoffer Ampatuan town. Noraila ran for councilor.

Zandria and Johaira were both appointed by Datu Zaldy as OIC mayor of the newly-created towns of Shariff Saydona and Datu Hoffer Ampatuan, respectively.

Of 12 prominent Ampatuans implicated in the November 23, 2009 massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao,  only two are not running for any post in this year’s elections: Datu Unsay mayor Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan, Jr., and suspended ARMM Governor Datu Zaldy Ampatuan.

Of the 12 prominent Ampatuans implicated as perpetrators  or conspirators in the massacre of  at least 58 persons (32 of them from the media), six are now in government custody; six others have yet to be arrested.

The Ampatuans presently detained in Bicutan, Metroa Manila are  Ampatuan Jr.; father Datu Andal S. Ampatuan Sr;  brothers Zaldy, Anwar and Sajid,  and brother-in-law Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan, Sr.

Datu Andal Ampatuan Sr., then OIC Governor of Maguindanao, is running for vice governor of Maguindanao against three opponents, including his daughter, Shaydee Ampatuan-Abutazil

Anwar, Sr., then mayor of Shariff Aguak, is running for vice mayor while his wife Zahara Upam, is running for mayor. Three of their children are running for councilor of Shariff Aguak: Anhara, Anwar  Jr. (also known as Datu Ipi)  and Rowella while another child, Manny Upam Ampatuan, is running for councilor of Datu Saudi Ampatuan.

Sajid, OIC Governor from January 2009 to shortly before the massacre, when Ampatuan Sr., took over, is running for provincial board member.

Akmad “Tato” Masukat Ampatuan, Sr., then OIC Vice Governor, is running for vice mayor of Mamasapano against his daughter Lady Sha-honey while his son Bahnarin is running for mayor against another son, Benzar.

The six others  implicated in the massacre — grandsons Saudi Jr., Bahnarin and Datu Anwar “Ipi” Ampatuan, Jr.;  Kanor Datumanong Ampatuan , Datu Mama Ampatuan and Datu  Norodin Ampatuan – have yet to be arrested.

But they are also candidates for top posts:  Saudi Jr. is seeking reelection as mayor of Datu Saudi Ampatuan town; Bahnarin is running for mayor of Mamasapano; Ipi is running for councilor of Shariff Aguak; Kanor is running for vice mayor of Datu Salibo; Datu Mama is running for councilor of Datu Salibo and Datu Norodin Datumanong Ampatuan, is running for councilor of Shariff Aguak.

Saudi’s brother, Saudi III, is running for vice mayor of Datu Saudi Ampatuan while Saudi’s wife Jehan-jehan Lepail is running for councilor. Saudi’s mother, Soraida, is running for vice mayor in Parang.

Comelec records show 68 Ampatuans are running 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.

At least 58 persons were massacred on November 23, 2009 in Ampatuan, Maguindanao,  32 of them from the media. They were traveling in a convoy from Buluan, Maguindanao and were enroute to the provincial office of the Commission on Elections in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao to file the certificate of candidacy for governor of Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu,  when stopped along the highway of Ampatuan town by about a hundred armed men led by Ampatuan, Jr., who dug his own political grave that same day.  (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)