GMA Dumping The Ampatuans,Crowning New Warlords? (Updated
The heat is on.
Not only on the kingpin political clan of the Ampatuans of Maguindanao but on the waning regime of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
The government of the day has long had the Ampatuans as its not-so-secret weapon for its dagdag-bawas/ zero-ang- kalaban electoral ‘victories’ dating back to 2004, plus it’s anti-MILF/anti Abu Sayyaf all-pupose private army requirements down South.
For so long the Ampatuans have held and controlled the so-called balance of power-cum-terror in the Autonomous region of Muslim Mindanao.
Yesterday, the Ampatuans rallied thousands of their supporters at their stronghold town of Sharik Aguak, as the Associated Press reported:
Thousands of followers rallied outside while Zaldy Ampatuan, governor of a Muslim autonomous region, told reporters his family has hired a battery of lawyers to defend his brother, who has been detained as the main suspect in the Nov. 23 massacre.
Ampatuan said he and his father, who have also been linked to the savage killings condemned worldwide, were innocent.
He appealed to the public to respect the law and not prejudge his brother, adding he will resist a plan by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s interior secretary to suspend him and other officials of the vast autonomous region that he heads.
“We have been prejudged,” Ampatuan told more than a dozen journalists in his family’s mansion in Shariff Aguak township, capital of the predominantly Muslim province of Maguindanao, about 545 miles (880 kilometers) south of Manila.
In a demonstration of support, about 30 town mayors from the region trooped to the Ampatuans’ heavily fortified residence to stand with the beleaguered clan. About 2,000 followers, many of them young people, held a noisy rally outside, chanting “long live the Ampatuans.”
The event is portentious for Manila.
Will the Ampatuaans lie protrate aas they are now pummeled political?
Or will shortly be forced to ‘tell all’ about the wholesale electoral cheating actotovities they are suspected of being involved in for the Arroyo regime?
But the equation is changing with the Amptuans embroiled neck deep in the November 23 massacre that left 64 dead in the worst case of mass murder in Philippine political history.
It its best to leave to our court system (no matter how imperfect) the task of determining determine of the guilt or innocence of the suspects.
But what is troubling to this writer and other quarters, is how indeed the political landscape in changing down South as the elections draw near.
This is because of the fact that if the Ampatuans are now too hot to handle for the Arroyo regime, in whose hands will the job of ‘operating the cheat machine’ go?
In his private citizen capacity, the former defense secretary and now administration Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential bet Gilbert Teodoro made a show of personally escorting the still-grieving Bunuan, Maguindanao vice mayor Ismael Mangudadatu in filing his candidacy bid, in direct challenge to the re-election bid of Andal Ampatuan Senior.
Nothing wrong there, right?
But we must not forget that in the 3 years that he was defense secretary Mr. Teodoto himself did nothing to disarm the warlorda of Mindanao: the Ampatuans, the Dimaporos, Sinsuats, and yes, the Mangudadatus.
Why now after his own negligence and indifference is Mr. Teodoro seemingly riding on the Filipino public’s anguish and anger over the massacre of the innocents???
Why is it that the Arroyo regime after reaping the benefits from the vaunted Ampatuans’ ‘command vote power in the South are now dumping the clan and replacing them with new warlords eager to become the preeminent kingpins in both Sultan Kudarat and M aguindanao?
The honorable Pax Mangudadatu is the lone congressman of Sultan Kudarat after being its governor for 9 years.
He was succeeded by son Teng Mangudadatu.
Now their relatives in Maguindanao want to take over from the Ampatuans
Curiously people remember Teng Mangudadatu was himself mentioned by Commissioer Virggilio Garcillano in the infamous ‘Hello Garci’ tapes as being involved in his poll cheating operations.
Sources requesting anonymity have shared this further tale:
Allegedly at around midnight on June 19, 2009 Mayor Sajid Gaguil Mangudadatu of Pandag, Maguindanao intruded into a “peaceful meeting at the home of his vice mayor Piang Adam, Jr.
“For no apparent reason, the Adam household was peppered with automatic weapons fire and rifle-launched grenades, resulting in the death of vice mayor Adam’s brother in law Rogelio Tano and the burning of the Adam home.”
The incident has been blamed, my sources said, on the group ‘Buaya sa Lanao’ allegedly headed by Mayor Mangudadatu.
“Even the local police were unable to respond because Mayor Sajid Mangudadatu and hius men went to the police station and disarmed the station commander,” my sources recount.
Does Mr. Gilbert Teodoro know this and is he now party to the shift in the balance of power in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, as his ally, DILG Secretary Ronaldo Puno holds court in the region as empowered by their Commander In Chief?
The plot has thickened.
9 days after the maccrre, authorities filed not 7 but 25 counyts of murder against Ampatuan Jr.
But it may just be that a stage is unfolding for justice to be waylaid.
Even Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera says she’s receive death threats while state prosecutors in Cotabato City have gome on leave, fearing their safety.
ABS-CBN is also repoting:
The Ampatuans are asking the Supreme Court to stop “warrantless arrests” that could be conducted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against any member of their family in connection with the Ampatuan massacre.
Maguindanao Governor Datu Andal Ampatuan, his son Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan and six other Ampatuans filed a petition before the SC seeking the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) enjoining government authorities from arresting them without a warrant considering that no preliminary investigation had been afforded them for their “supposed complicity” in the Maguindao massacre.
Other petitioners in the case are Norodin “Nord Ampatuan” Datumanong, Akmad Ampatuan, Saudi Ampatuan, Jr., Bahnarin Ampatuan, Jr., Sajid Islam Ampatuan, and Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan, Sr.