2 Ampatuans attend massacre’s 3rd year rites; express hurt over Drilon’s objection to their membership in LP

MASSACRE SITE, Ampatuan, Maguindanao (MindaNews/23 Nov) – Two members of the Ampatuan clan joined Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu at the commemoration of the 3rd anniversary of the November 23, 2009 massacre of 58 persons here.

Joining Mangudadatu and the relatives of the victims are his allies – Maguindanao board members Datu Sarip Ampatuan, half brother of the Ampatuan patriarch, Andal Ampatuan Sr., and cousin Datu Yasser Ampatuan – the governor’s partymates at the Liberal Party who face threats of ouster upon the recommendation of party chair, Senator Franklin Drilon.

The two Ampatuans said they hope for a speedy resolution of the case, claiming that even if they were not involved in the massacre and they condemn what happened, they are still affected because of their family name.

They said they felt hurt and discriminated upon especially when Drilon told the weekly forum at the Senate on Thursday that he would not agree that the Ampatuans – nine of them running under the Liberal Party – would run under their party.

“I will not agree that they should run under our party,” Drilon said.

“We should revoke whatever CONA (certificates of nomination and acceptance) that they have issued to the Ampatuans. I am not in favor of that,” he said.

Drilon was reacting to a  HYPERLINK “http://pcij.org/stories/andal-jr-sells-8-big-properties72-ampatuans-running-in-2013/” report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) that 72 Ampatuans are running in the May 2013 polls, nine of them under the Liberal Party.

Not involved in massacre

“Ang masasabi ko po kay Senator Drilon, ok lang yung binitiwan mo na salita pero hindi na sinama ang hindi kasama sa may kagagawan sa Maguindanao Massacre. Tao din kami,” (What I can say to Senator Drilon is, what you said is okay but you should not have included those who were not part of the Maguindanao Massacre. We are human beings, too), said Datu Sarip, who is running for mayor in the municipality of Shariff Aguak against incumbent mayor Zahara Ampatuan, wife of the detained Anwar who was mayor in 2009.

The detained Ampatuans are the patriarch, Andal Ampatuan Sr., his four sons – Andal Jr., Zaldy, Anwar and Sajid; son-in-law Achmad; and two grandsons.

“Kaya ako nakadikit kay Governor (Mangudadatu) dahil sa kabutihan nya, hinayaan nya akong i-exercise ang aking political career,” (That’s why I am with Governor Mangudadatu because of his goodness, he allowed me to exercise my political career), Datu Sarip said.

Datu Yasser, who is running for reelection, asked in Pilipino: “Are they saying that our membership in the Liberal Party, where we took our oath of office before Liberal Party president Mar Roxas at the national headquarters in Quezon City, is no longer valid?”

“If they believe the Ampatuans should be expelled from the Liberal Party, we will accept their decision. We will not force ourselves on them. We will continue with our candidacy. Only God knows and we will just try to continue our candidacy even as Lakas-loob party, but we will definitely support the candidacy of Governor Mangudadatu,” he said.

Mangudadatu and nine Ampatuans, including Datu Sarip and Datu Yasser, are allies. But Mangudadatu explained that they are “the good Ampatuans” who do not share the same beliefs as the detained Ampatuans.

The governor said it is not fair to judge the other Ampatuans who took no part in the massacre.

Mangudadatu said these “good Ampatuans” were also victims of their abusive relatives.

“Kung tatanggalin sila ng LP, wala tayo magawa doon, pero pwede naman sila voluntary na pumunta doon sa national headquarters. Dapat imbestigahan nila ang mga taong ito, alamin din kung ano ang background nila, kasi maging sila ay biktima din ng mga nakakulong na Ampatuan” (If they are ousted by the LP, we can’t do anything about that, but they can voluntarily go to the national headquarters. The [national LP] should investigate who these people are, find out their background, because even they are victims of the detained Ampatuans), Mangudadatu said. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera / MindaNews)