Ampatuan scion among country’s new lawyers

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/ 20 March)—Twenty-eight year old Bai Saudia Shahara Biruar-Ampatuan, a grand daughter of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., was among those who passed the 2013 bar exams.

Will she be joining the defense team of her grandfather and other family members accused in the grisly Ampatuan massacre on November 23, 2009 that killed 58 people, including 32 media workers?

“That is a possibility. I’m still new and young. [But frankly], I’m not sure yet,” she said on the phone.

Of the 5,291 aspirants, 1,174 or 22.18 percent passed the bar exams, the Supreme Court announced on Tuesday.

Bai Saudia told MindaNews that since childhood, she dreamed of becoming a lawyer, fulfilling it on her first attempt after passing the 2013 bar exams.

She graduated from the Albert Einstein High School in Cotabato City, took up a pre-law course in San Beda College and finished her law degree at the San Sebastian College Recoletos in Manila.

Bai Saudia is the daughter of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, then the mayor of Datu Piang town who was killed in a bomb attack in 2003, at a time when the Ampatuan clan wields vast political clout in the province until 2009 when some key members were accused of masterminding the infamous Ampatuan massacre, the worst election–related violence in the country and the largest single deadly attack against the press anywhere else.

She was only 17 when her father was killed eleven years ago.

Bai Saudia recalled the hardships she went through to reach this point of her life.

“It’s a big struggle on my part. I was fighting a battle when my dad was gone and my mother was far from me. Then that sudden gloomy chapter [the Ampatuan massacre allegedly] involving my clan. But those things made me tough, I didn’t lose hope,” she said.

Bai Saudia noted she wants to be a role model to her relatives, whom she urged to strive hard despite the challenges coming their way and for them to value the importance of education.

Sought for reaction, Vice Mayor Bai Soraida Biruar Ampatuan of Parang, Maguindanao said she is overjoyed that her daughter is now a lawyer.

The family is preparing a grand kanduli or thanksgiving for the new lawyer who is expected to arrive here anytime this week. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)