MANILA, Philippines -- The Ampatuans and Mangudadatus have reigned in Maguindanao politics since 1986 when the revolutionary government of then President Corazon Aquino appointed officers-in-charge to local elective posts of mayors, municipal, provincial and village legislators, as well as governors and their deputies.
The patriarchs of both clans? Datu Andal Ampatuan Sr. and Datu Pua Mangudadatu ?were appointed mayors of their respective municipalities, Maganoy (now Shariff Aguak) and Buluan, Maguindanao.
The two men never lost an election and their children have also entered politics and emerged winners, too. Many saw their political careers thrive in the positions they have held, among them, Governor Zaldy Uy Ampatuan of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and incumbent Buluan town Vice-Mayor Esmael Toto Mangudadatu, who is now said to be running for Maguindanao governor, the post to be left by Datu Andal Ampatuan Sr. to his son, Andal Jr.
The two families are related, at least, by affinity.
The late Datu Pua is the father of one of the victims of the massacre in Maguindanao on Monday -- Deah Mangudadatu-Dilangalen -- sister of Esmael. She was married to Datu Nasser Dilangalen, a cousin of Maguindanao Rep. Didagen Dilangalen, whose daughter is married to a grandson of the elder Ampatuan.
It was said that before he died of lingering illness, Datu Pua had left his politician children under the care and tutelage of the elder Ampatuan, the two old men having been very close friends.
In 2001, the Mangudadatus joined the band of local leaders supporting the candidacy of Ampatuan Sr. for governor of Maguindanao, against then incumbent Governor Datu Zacaria Candao.
A rift between the two families started with rumors that Esmael was running for governor in the May 2010 elections.
Their ties were severed when the Mangudadatus purportedly blocked the creation of the Adam municipality to be culled from the towns that they control in the south eastern tip of the province. It was also said that the proposed town did not meet the population required by law.
Adam is reportedly the name of the deceased father of Supt. Piang Adam, who had retired as police provincial director of Maguindanao early this year. The police officer is said to be loyal to the elder Ampatuan and to his son Mayor Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr. of Datu Unsay municipality.
As Adam and his relatives began establishing residency in Pandag town in the political territory of the Mangudadatus, he reported an incident of attack in late July 2009 by armed men, during which a close kin of the retired officer was killed. Subsequent police pursuit operations had some of the Mangudadatu followers disarmed.