Sunday Mar, 26 2023 02:22:09 AM

Ampatuan leaves behind a story of fiefdom hard to forget

 • 04:04 AM Mon Jul 20, 2015
John Unson
Maguindanao ex-Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. (John Unson)

MAGUINDANAO – It was a bumpy road to fief and fame, perpetuated with violence and state resources, that started in the provincial jail and ended in a hospital bed where he died while being prosecuted for the slaughter of 58 people in 2009.Former Gov. Andal Ampatuan, Sr. is gone, but his name will surely be etched in the history of the province as Maguindanao’s most controversial contemporary leader that ruled with iron fist, with absolute intolerance for political opposition and for his deep-seated animosity with Moro secessionist forces in his political bailiwicks.Afflicted with liver cirrhosis, Ampatuan, one of the alleged brains in the infamous November 23, 2009 Maguindanao Massacre,” died at the National Kidney Transplant Institute shortly before midnight Friday, about a week after he slipped to coma after a heart attack.Ampatuan’s violent tendencies were first noticed even before he joined politics.While a young man, he was said to have attacked with a pistol a poll watcher in the 1960s during a presidential election where he supported the candidacy then of Diosdado Macapagal, father of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.Arroyo was to become his most generous political benefactor, under whose administration he amassed wealth and was able to put up militias and stockpile weapons enough to arm a brigade-size Army contingent.Ampatuan began his political career as a lowly-member of the municipal council in his hometown, Maganoy, now named Shariff Aguak, an initial stride to power that was to prosper beyond his imagination, but ended sadly right after the Nov. 23, 2009 Maguindanao Massacre.A senior member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate congregation, Fr. Eliseo Mercado, Jr., who is a friend of Ampatuan and members of his family, had stated on Facebook that while Ampatuan was touted as notorious, most clan members were peace-loving and were opposed to his ways.The Maguindanao massacre had, in fact, divided the Ampatuans into two blocs - the good Ampatuans,” or those that had nothing to do with the atrocity, and the notorious Ampatuans.”The label notorious Ampatuans refers to the detained massacre suspects and many other relatives wanted by law, still at large. Marami sa aming mga educated Ampatuans ang ayaw niya because they were apprehensive na kung kami ang mabibigyan nang power eh mapapag-iwanan namin sila,” said a relative, who is a teacher by profession.Ampatuan was first detained at the Maguindanao provincial jail in the early 1980s for having killed a nephew, Unsek, in a coffee shop in the town proper of Shariff Aguak.Ampatuan was undefeated mayor of Shariff Aguak for three consecutive terms from the late 1980s until the 1990s.Ampatuan’s nephew, Zourab Abutazil, was shot dead in Shariff Aguak after rumors had spread that the victim was to run for mayor of the same town in an election during the time of then President Corazon Aquino.A vice-mayor of Shariff Aguak, Bantilan Paglala, was also gunned down at a busy intersection in Cotabato City in 1992, just hours after he filed his certificate of candidacy for mayor of the municipality.A retiring official of the National Economic Development Authority in Region 12, Hadji Umba Campiao, was killed one evening during Ramadhan in the 1990s after talking over local radio stations about Ampatuan’s mismanagement of the Shariff Aguak local government unit.There were stories too that Campiao was to aspire for Shariff Aguak’s mayoral post, after his retirement from NEDA, before he was killed by two suspected hired killers near his residence in Cotabato City.A political tactician, Abdulkadir Candao, older brother of former Maguindanao Gov. Zacaria Candao, was killed in Cotabato City in 2003, something his relatives perceived as absolutely politically-motivated.Candao’s campaign manager in Barangay Kauran in Ampatuan town, Boy Bañaga, was fatally ambushed by suspected partisans during the campaign period in 2001.Candao lost in his re-election bid to contender Ampatuan during the 2001 Maguindanao gubernatorial race.While at the helm of the provincial government, Ampatuan became known as a king maker,” a moniker he earned for his having worked out without difficulty the election of his favored candidates for mayor and anointed bets for three slots for the 2nddistrict of Maguindanao in the Regional Assembly of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.Using his money, influence and connections with people in Malacañang, he was also able to make his son, Zaldy, become governor of ARMM for two consecutive terms.Zaldy’s second term as ARMM governor was cut short by his incarceration in connection with the Maguindanao Massacre.Ampatuan was also instrumental in the first election to office in 1997 of now third-termer Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong, Jr.It was the Maguindanao Massacre that caused the demise politically of Ampatuan’s immediate family.Among the 58 people that perished in the massacre were the wife of then Buluan Vice-Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu, Genalyn, and more than 30 journalists.The victims were in a convoy en route to the old provincial capitol in Shariff Aguak to file on Mangudadatu’s behalf his candidacy for governor of Maguindanao during the May 13, 2010 local polls.The convoy was commandeered by members of the Ampatuan private militia led by then Mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr., herded to a hill along a highway in Barangay Masalay in Ampatuan municipality, where passengers were killed mercilessly with assault rifles and K3 machineguns.The Ampatuans were opposed to Mangudadatu’s plan then to contest the candidacy of Andal, Jr. for governor of Maguindanao.The last nail that shut the coffin of the political fief of Ampatuan was Mangudadatu’s election as governor in 2010. Mangudadatu was re-elected to a second term on May 13, 2013.Ampatuan was a doting father to his children, a thoughtful grandfather to his grandchildren. He was generous to all of them and had gifted them with guns, costly Swiss watches and sports utility vehicles during their birthdays.Ampatuan’s favorite son, Saudi, was mayor of Datu Piang, also in the second district of Maguindanao, when he was killed in December 2002, along with 18 others, in a roadside bombing blamed on local Moro rebel leaders they were said to have persecuted politically.Saudi’s death came just three days after another son, Hofer, was killed in a gunfight inside a venue of a bikini contest in Cotabato City that was sparked by a supposedly minor altercation with a group also watching the contest. Hofer first attacked the group with a .45 caliber pistol, provoking a former Cotabato City councilor, Magno Adalin, Sr. to return fire, hitting him in the abdomen, causing his death.Adalin was pursued and killed by followers of the Ampatuans inside the premises of the Cotabato Regional Medical Center in Cotabato City, where he rushed his relatives Hoffer hurt in the shooting frenzy.One of the good Ampatuans, Zamzamin, mayor of Rajah Buayan town, on Saturday morning confirmed to reporters in Central Mindanao the former governor’s demise past 11:00 p.m. Friday while at the ICU of the NKTI. Let's look at his life as a lesson, a backdrop to where man should lead himself. Justice has its own natural course,” the mayor wrote on a Facebook thread about Ampatuan’s death, posted by a local radio reporter.

Cops uproot P2M worth of marijuana in Bukidnon

COTABATO CITY - Policemen uprooted some P2 million worth of marijuana shrubs in an operation Friday in an upland area in Valencia City in...

2 BIFF members shot dead by companions

COTABATO CITY - Alleged members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters killed in an ambush Friday in Maguindanao del Sur two companions...

Socoteco 1 announces 9hours power service interruption for Banga on March 26

Scheduled service interruption on March 26, 2023, Sunday Time 8:00AM-5:00PM (9 hrs.) Affected: BANGA SUBSTATION FEEDER 91: Portion of...

Cotelco PPALMA announces power interruption sked for March 26

Scheduled power interruption: Please be informed that we will be having a scheduled power interruption for the details as mentioned below:...

Part of DOS, Mag Norte to experience 4-hour scheduled power interruption, says Cotabato Light

To all our valued customers, please be informed of the scheduled power interruption affecting customers in Dinaig St., Freedom, DOS, Maguindanao, on...