Ampatuans’ poll bid sparks outrage

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WHEN WILL JUSTICE BE SERVED? File photo taken on Nov. 25, 2009, shows police forensic officers trying to identify the bodies of dozens of victims of the worst political violence in the Philippines’ history. DENNIS JAY SANTOS/INQUIRER MINDANAO

MANILA, Philippines—Dozens of members of a clan whose leaders are on trial for the Philippines’ worst political massacre are candidates in 2013 elections, some for President Benigno Aquino’s party, media and rights groups said Friday.

The revelations sparked outrage on the three-year anniversary of the massacre, in which 58 people died, with critics saying the Ampatuan family’s enduring political influence underlined the country’s “culture of impunity”.

“That some clan members are running under the banner of President Aquino’s party is a serious cause for concern because it imparts a damaging message that impunity is alive and well,” Human Rights Watch’s Carlos Conde told Agence France-Presse.

Leaders of the clan, then allied to Aquino’s predecessor, Gloria Arroyo, are accused of carrying out the massacre to stop a local rival, Esmael Mangudadatu, from filing his candidacy for Maguindanao province governor in 2010 elections.

Andal Ampatuan Sr., the patriarch and then governor of the province, plus four of his sons, are on trial, accused of planning or participating in the massacre. They deny the charges.

Eighty-two people in total are on trial, many of whom were allegedly members of the Ampatuans’ private army that helped to consolidate the family’s almost complete control of the province over the previous decade.

The victims included 32 media workers who were travelling in a convoy to report on Mangudadatu’s attempt to file election papers. The Ampatuans and their gunmen allegedly stopped the convoy and shot everyone dead.

In the aftermath of the massacre, Arroyo was forced to cut political ties with the family, and its power base in Maguindanao, a Muslim-populated province plagued by insurrection and other violence, appeared to have been diminished.

But 72 members of the clan are running again as candidates in next year’s elections, including nine for Aquino’s Liberal Party, said the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.

They are representing mostly local level positions in Maguindanao, said a joint statement by the union and six other Philippine media organisations that expressed deep anger.

“Even as fear of reprisals continue to haunt witnesses and plaintiffs in the case, the government of Mr. Aquino and other major political parties in the country have embraced the Ampatuan clan,” the groups said.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper also wrote in an editorial Friday: “How can the political parties not know that support for Ampatuan candidates feeds the very impunity that led to the massacre?”

In the Philippines, powerful politicians and other members of the elite classes often commit crimes without any fear of punishment. Aquino has vowed to tackle this culture.

Aquino’s spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, confirmed the ruling Liberal party had recruited some Ampatuans, but defended the move saying they did not share the same “brand of politics” as the accused. He did not say who had been recruited.

The main opposition United Nationalist Alliance, led by Vice President Jejomar Binay, also confirmed some Ampatuans were running in its coalition but said they had not been implicated in the massacre.

“What’s the big fuss?” coalition spokesman Jose Bautista said to AFP.

“Should each and every Ampatuan be penalized for the murders?”

Meanwhile, the trial drags on with no signs of an end. Lawyers have said it could take years, or even decades, for the proceedings to conclude amid the Philippines’ notoriously overwhelmed justice system.

Three witnesses for the prosecution have been killed over the past three years.

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  • JuanTamadachi

    quote
    Meanwhile, the trial drags on with no signs of an end. Lawyers have said it could take years, or even decades, for the proceedings to conclude amid the Philippines’ notoriously overwhelmed justice system.
    unquote

    maybe they will slowly wither and die in jail. If this happens, justice will have been served.. 

  • CPCook

    Mr Conde said: “That some clan members are running under the banner of President Aquino’s party is a serious cause for concern because it imparts a damaging message that impunity is alive and well.”  Hold on a second… is Mr Conde saying that guilt runs through families?  Is there such thing as guilt by affinity or consanguinity?  If so, by how many degrees? Should we also detain them as well?  

    • Diepor

      The point is that its buisness as usual. the clan is soon back in power just using another person as their face outwards,the clan behaind is still the same.

      • chingnarciso

        just because the last name is Ampatuan, they are guilty as well? you cannot deny a persons right to run for office, because of the atrocious act of other Ampatuans. I am from Mindanao and I know that some Ampatuans are against the atrocties of this people…

  • captainramius

    As I said…. send them to Manila Police Precincts for temporary jail term say a couple of days…. Mayor Lim will surely serve them justice they deserve.

  • Simon Ward

    I have so many questions that could provide more perspective. How many Ampatuans are there? If there are 73 candidates, and each represents a family unit of, say, three, that’s 219 right there! Maybe every other person in Maguindanao is called Ampatuan?

    So are all 73 candidates actually called Ampatuan, and close relatives of Andal? Or are some very distant cousins called Juan dela Cruz?

    Here’s a good one: How many, if any, are immediate family members of people accused in the massacre?

  • Mamang Pulis

    At paano na yun kaalyado ni Mastura? Si Mastura ay kilalang MILF supporter–paano na yan kung didikit ang mga ampatuan dito?

    paano na yan kung manalo?  sabay hahalo ngayun sa MILF–Bangsamoro—paano mo ‘uupakan’ ng magaling na presecutor ang mga nasasakdal kung ang mag tatago ito sa ‘framework’?

    siguradong masalimuot yan kapag humalo—

    sana mang agaw ng Tavor si dayunyor—kahit yun beretta na luma man lang —

    o di kya, mag stage sila ng riot—mga tipong aagawan ng armas ang jail guard–parang yun nangyari sa Camp Bagong Diwa noong nakakulong si commader robot at sampu ng abu sayaf…

  • EdgarEdgar

    Sounds all too familiar. New administration with new zeal and newfound principles to carry out not-so-new reforms, all trumpeted by new sloganeering, all packaged nicely in new yellow ribbons. And before you know it, Noynoy and his Liberal Party are already in bed with the butchers of the Maguindanao massacre. Not just in bed but in connivance with the Ampatuans to win more votes in the south in exchange for the political rehabilitation and exoneration of some Ampatuans who are now detained in the imperial capital of Manila. Noynoy did not think twice before embracing the Ampatuans, giving them a leg up and thrusting his full support so that the Ampatuans may win more votes for Noynoy’s Liberal Party in the coming 2013 elections. Clearly, Noynoy finds it very pleasurable to be scratched in the back by the Ampatuans as he scratches their backs in return. But then again, this should come as no surprise since Noynoy himself all too readily abandoned the search for his father’s killers just to kiss and make up with Tito Danding. Noynoy is all too willing to do anything and go to any extent for personal expediency.

    At the expense of our national pursuit of justice, Noynoy and his Liberal Party have succeeded yet again in trivializing the Maguindanao massacre into parochial and provincial politics. An unspeakable bloodbath that claimed 58 human lives, placed on hold the lives of 58 families and dragged on for more than 1,000 days and still counting.

    Where is the justice that Noynoy promised the Filipino people? 

  • Diepor

    Impunity means “exemption from punishment or loss or escape from fines”. In the international law of human rights, it refers to the failure to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to justice and, as such, itself constitutes a denial of the victims’ right to justice and redress. Impunity is especially common in countries that lack a tradition of the rule of law, suffer from corruption or that have entrenched systems of patronage, or where the judiciary is weak or members of the security forces are protected by special jurisdictions or immunities.

  • kypros

      a ‘culture of impunity’ in a nation that always justify it’s stupidity

    • opinyonlangpo

      Can also be a culture of corruption, I will not be surprised if the clan regains power and those jailed will even run for senate. There are worse people but eventually able to wash their hands off any criminal involvement and now even actively in politics. And as time pass by they will even rewrite history and maybe get awards. Its more fun in the Philippines.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QZZKXPEA67I7HELEIYM35QVYFA Jon

    “Even as fear of reprisals continue to haunt witnesses and plaintiffs in
    the case, the government of Mr. Aquino and other major political
    parties in the country have embraced the Ampatuan clan,” the groups
    said.

    Political prostitution at its best folks.

  • To_Be_Continued

    No word can explain how shameless, rotten, nightmarish, despicable  and insane our politics and justice system are. 

    It beffudles me no end how mindless the Liberal Party and its leaders have become so naive to have sacrificed the social reforms they have achieved at the expense of more votes in Magundanao in the coming election.

    I can only imagine the decomposed remains of Ninoy Aquino, Gerry Roxas, Sergio Osmena now turning on their graves with their legacy now covered with the blood of the 52 massacre victims, their souls howling from their gravesites for justice in the still, windless nights.

    So sad… What a shame…

  • kalikasanipagtanggol

    Kayo ang BOSS (a bos) ko!

  • regd

    You want proof of our country’s culture of impunity? Look no further than the marcos family. The thought of bongbong becoming president is frightening!

  • http://twitter.com/arvinic Arvin Acosta

    Send 3 battallion of marines in maguindanao and disarm all private armies there if the government is really sincere.

  • Jopads

     “What’s the big fuss?” coalition spokesman Jose Bautista said to AFP.

    “Should each and every Ampatuan be penalized for the murders?”- No Amputuan has ever been penalized yet! Democracy should allow them to seek office. I’m fine with that. But sensitivity on your part should have disallowed the Amputuans to run under your party!

    Let us continue to speak out against the idea of fielding Ampatuans to any elective post. These traditional politicians will have no choice but to listen to us.

  • Janch

    Blood is thicker than water.  Those Ampatuan relatives if voted to office will protect the interest of their clan and its members.  Now, they are getting support from the administration and opposition party coalitions. Wow, kahit sinong manalo sa susunod na elections, siguradong meron silang kapit sa mga nakakataas na officials.

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