By Carolyn O. Arguillas
Davao City – Only two of the 12 prominent Ampatuans implicated in the November 23, 2009 massacre in Maguindanao are not running for any posts in this year’s elections: Datu Unsay mayor Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan, Jr., and ARMM governor Datu Zaldy Ampatuan. Just as well, their wives and a daughter are running, records of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) show.
Of the 12 Ampatuan clan members 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.
Detained at the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila is Ampatuan Jr.; father Datu Andal S. Ampatuan Sr., is confined in a military hospital in Davao City; and brothers Zaldy, Anwar and Sajid, and brother-in-law Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan, Sr., are detained at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in General Santos City.
At present, only Ampatuan Jr. is detained for multiple murder. Ampatuan Sr. and the clan members in General Santos City are detained for rebellion.
Ampatuan Jr’s dream of becoming governor of Maguindanao ended on November 23 but his wife, Reshal Santiago, is running for mayor of Datu Unsay.
Ampatuan Sr., then OIC governor of Maguindanao, is running for vice governor of Maguindanao against three opponents, including his daughter, Shaydee Ampatuan-Abutazil.
Zaldy’s wife, Bai Johaira or Bongbong Midtimbang is running for mayor of Datu Hoffer town, while eldest daughter Bai Norailla Kristina, is running for councilor. Both mother and daughter are assured of victory. They are running unopposed.
Anwar Sr., then mayor of Shariff Aguak, is running for vice mayor, while 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. Another child, Manny Upam Ampatuan, is running for councilor of Datu Saudi Ampatuan.
Sajid, OIC Governor from January to shortly before the massacre when Ampatuan Sr. took over, is running for provincial board member; his wife Zandria is running for mayor of Shariff Saydona Mustapha.
Akmad “Tato” Masukat Ampatuan Sr., then OIC vice governor, is running for vice mayor of Mamasapano against his daughter Lady Sha-honey. 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.
All six are also running 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.
Earlier, only nine Ampatuans were implicated in the massacre. Ampatuan Jr.,was charged with multiple murder on December 1 while the other clan members have yet to go through preliminary investigation: Ampatuan, Sr., Nords Ampatuan, Akmad Ampatuan, Saudi Ampatuan, Jr., Bahnarin A. Ampatuan, Sajid Islam Uy Ampatuan, Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan, Sr. and Datu Zaldy “Puti” U. Ampatuan.
On February 8, however, an amended complaint was filed before the Regional Trial Court Branch 221 under Judge Josephine Reyes-Solis, implicating 19 other Ampatuans. This brings the total number of Ampatuans implicated in the massacre to 28, but only 12 are prominent clan members. The name of Akmad Ampatuan, OIC mayor of Datu Salibo town, has been dropped from the list of respondents.
The panel of investigating prosecutors in a joint resolution dated February 5 said 11 Ampatuans were among those “positively identified by witnesses” to have participated in the carnage: Ampatuan Jr., Datu Kanor Ampatuan, Datu Bahnarin A. Ampatuan, Datu Mama Ampatuan, Datu Sajid Islam U. Ampatuan, Datu Anwar Ampatuan, Datu Saudi Ampatuan Jr., Datu Ulo Ampatuan, Datu Ipi Ampatuan, Datu Harris Ampatuan, Datu Moning Ampatuan. Also implicated in the mass murder were Mogira Hadji Anggulat, Parido Zangkala Gogo, Jun Pendatun, Kagi Faizal and Sukarno Badal.
But the panel added that, “the confluence of events before and immediately after the commission of the offense leads us to no other inference than that respondents Andal Ampatuan, Sr., Datu Zaldy “Puti” U. Ampatuan, Datu Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan, Sr., Datu Norodin Ampatuan, and Datu Jimmy Ampatuan or five Ampatuans “connived with the actual perpetrators.”
Of the 16 Ampatuans named as perpetrators and conspirators, 12 are known. There is little information though about the real first names of Datu Ulo, Datu Harris, Datu Moning and Datu Jimmy.
Comelec records show that 68 Ampatuans are running in this year’s election – 50 of them carry the surname and 18 others use Ampatuan as 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, including 32 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.
PHOTO: (L-R) ARMM governor Datu Zaldy Ampatuan, Maguindanao OIC Sajid Ampatuan, President Arroyo and Congressman Didagen Dilangalen inaugurate a project in Maguindanao.