Tag archive for "Muslim Mindanao"


Current Affairs


No Comments 15 September 2013

He speaks as if he has not failed his own people. He talks as if he had taken good care of their needs. How many else are like him who has put self and ego above community? READ FULL STORY


Current Affairs


No Comments 20 January 2011

On November 23, 2009, 58 people were murdered by a local warlord from Maguindanao in the worst case of election violence in Philippine history. A year later, hope still flickers for the families of the victims, but the path to justice has been unbearably slow. VIEW DOCUMENTARY


Current Affairs


No Comments 09 February 2010

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.




1 Comment 24 January 2010

By Francisco Lara Jr.

The Maguindanao massacre predicts the eruption of wider violence and conflict as the nation heads towards the 2010 elections. Yet to dismiss this incident as “election-related” is to miss the fundamental political and economic implications of this evil deed. The massacre is rooted in the shift in politico-economic sources of violence and conflict in Muslim Mindanao. It signifies the emergence of new-type warlords whose powers depend upon their control of a vast illegal and shadow economy and an ever-growing slice of internal revenue allotments (IRA). Both factors induce a violent addiction to political office.

Mindanao scholars used to underscore the role of “local strong men” who were an essential component of the central state’s efforts to extend its writ over the region. The elite bargain was built upon the state’s willingness to eschew revenue generation and to grant politico-military dominance to a few Moro elites in exchange for the latter providing political thugs and armed militias to secure far-flung territories, fight the communists and separatists, and extend the administrative reach of the state.

The economic basis of the elite bargain has changed since then. Political office has become more attractive due to the billions of pesos in IRA remittances that electoral victory provides. The “winner-takes-all” nature of local electoral struggles in Muslim Mindanao also means that competition is costlier and bloodier. Meanwhile, political authority may enable control over the formal economy, but the bigger prize is the power to monopolize or to extort money from those engaged in the lucrative business of illegal drugs, gambling, kidnap-for-ransom, gun-running, and smuggling, among others. The piracy of software, CDs and DVDs, and the smuggling of pearls and other gemstones from China and Thailand are seen as micro and small enterprises. These illegal economies and a small formal sector comprise the “real” economy of Muslim Mindanao.

The failure to appreciate how this underground economy, coupled with entitlements to massive government-to-government fund transfers, shapes prevailing notions of political legitimacy and authority in the region partly explains the inability of the central state to deal with lawlessness and conflict.

Political legitimacy in Muslim Mindanao has very little to do with protecting people’s rights or providing basic services. People rarely depend on government for welfare provision, and are consequently averse to paying any taxes. People actually expect local leaders to pocket government resources, and are willing to look the other way so long as their clans dominate and they are given a small slice during elections. Legitimacy is all about providing protection to your fellow clan members by trumping the firepower of your competitors, leaving people alone, and forgetting about taxes.

There were positive signs in the recent past, especially among the Moro women and youth who bore the brunt of conflict and who sought a different future. But achieving their aspirations depends on their ability to rise above clan structures and the dynamics of hierarchy and collective self-defense that bound its members. This dilemma was painfully exposed in the Maguindanao massacre, where Moro women who usually played a strategic role in negotiating an end to rido (clan wars) became its principal victims.

The sad thing about the recent massacre is that it could have been avoided. Everyone in Central Mindanao knew about the looming violence between the Ampatuan and Mangudadatu clans as early as March 2009, when the latter’s patriarch Pax Mangudadatu confronted Andal Ampatuan in a public gathering and made known his clan’s intention to challenge the latter’s political hold on Maguindanao. This threat was in turn based on the knowledge that Ampatuan was planning to undermine the Mangudadatus by fielding a challenger against them in Sultan Kudarat.

In short, the “looming” rido which pundits are predicting today actually started more than six months ago. Yet neither Malacanang nor the Comelec, PNP, and the AFP made any attempt to monitor their activities, disarm their private security, demobilize their loyalists within the police and military, and ring-fence their camps.


The answer lies in the newfound role of Muslim Mindanao to national political elites. The region is known for a long history of electoral fraud. The difference today lies in its ability to provide the millions of votes that can overturn the results of national electoral contests, a situation brought about by the creation of a sub-national state (ARMM) and reinforced by the sort of democratic political competition in the post-Marcos era that makes local bosses more powerful and national leaders more beholden to them. This was the case in the presidential elections of 2004 and the senatorial race in 2007. It will serve the same purpose in 2010. Whose purpose is served by arresting Ampatuan in an election year? Certainly not those of the ruling coalition.

This partly explains the foot dragging and the lame treatment of principal suspects in the massacre. And to those pressing for limited martial rule in Maguindanao, beware what you wish for. Having a surfeit of troops on the ground can provide a superficial peace at best. At worse, it may facilitate the same type of electoral fraud in 2010, or leverage the firepower of one clan over another.

In a region where the rebellion-related conflict between the GRP-MILF received all of the national and international community’s attention and aid, NGOs such as International Alert and the Asia Foundation have often decried the ignorance and indifference of the government and donor agencies to community-based inter and intra clan violence. As International Alert asserts, it is time to focus on the confluence between both types and sources of violence and conflict. Indifference will only lead to more death and destruction as the election approaches, when a convergence between rebellion-related, and inter and intra clan conflict occurs as military forces and armed rebels take sides between warring clans and factions.

Mindanao scholars such as Patricio Abinales, James Putzel, and John Sidel have previously noted how local strong men made Mindanao, and how the region provided an ideal case of the country’s “imperfect democracy” and “political bossism.” More recently, the conflict scholar Stathis Kalyvas called attention to the birth of “ruthless political entrepreneurs” who shape and are shaped by the dynamics between states, clans, and conflict.

The viciousness of the Maguindanao attack shows how these phenomena resonate here. It demonstrates the weak and narrow reach of the central Philippine state in Muslim Mindanao, and how the continued reliance on local strong men will not end the cycle of violence.

(The author is Research Associate at the Crisis States Research Center, Development Studies Institute, London School of Economics.)


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