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One Ampatuan dead is no resolution

HONG KONG (Mabuhay) : The man suspected of being one of the leading masterminds behind the slaughter of 58 people in Maguindanao on 23 November 2009, Andal Ampatuan Sr., has died in a Manila hospital on the evening of July 17 after failing to recover from a heart attack.

Rappler.com confirmed news of his death and his lawyer, Salvador Panelo, told Agence France Presse that the former governor of Maguindanao had been informed that he only had three to six months to live.

The senior Ampatuan is accused, along with his son, Andal (Unsay) Ampatuan, of being the principal ringleader in the organisation of the massacre of a caravan travelling to register the name of Esmael Mangudadatu as a candidate for governor of the province in the upcoming election.

Well planned and brutal in its execution, with women raped, people shot in the genitals and some apparently disfigured with a chainsaw, it is remembered as the most brutal massacre of modern Philippine history and the biggest slaughter of media personnel anywhere in the world. Thirty-eight journalists died.

The legacy of the massacre is no less horrific, with families deprived of breadwinners and witnesses living in fear of their lives, as several suspects in the massacre are out on bail and, the long, drawn out legal proceedings against the accused has already seen witness liquated and fear spread to make others reluctant to come forward.

Mangudadatu, who is currently the governor of Maguindanao, was quoted by Rappler.com as saying, “Allah will be responsible for him and for those he has killed. (Ampatuan) will definitely be answerable to God for his sins.”

But there is also a strong call to make the seven accused answerable to man as well and, while some said that they are glad he is dead, they also admit that his death does not solve any problems.

Rappler.com quoted Reynafe Momay, the daughter of slain photo-journalist Reynaldo Momay, as saying, “Now that he is dead, I don’t know how to feel. When I say it is mixed emotions, I can’t help but remember how it feels to lose a parent. I know even if (Ampatuan) was that way, he still has family who love him and mourn him.”

Momay, who is now working in the United States of America, added, “But I am still human. At the back of my mind, I hoped he would live longer, just so he would have time to repent from his sins. I wish that he was able to seek forgiveness on his death bed. He should have apologised to his victims. I pity his family who lost him. I am not happy he died.”

The grief suffered by victims of the massacre has not taken away the dysfunctionality in the political and cultural environment that made the massacre possible.

At the time, the archbishop of Cotabato, Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, said that while politicians and non-politicians alike “have quickly blamed others for this shocking tragedy, my sense of history leads me to believe that somehow we all share the blame to a certain extent… as a culture of impunity has, indeed, grown through the years.”

The archbishop then said
categorically that political administrations and officials from all parties from the 1960s through to the present time “have cultivated and exploited to their own advantage a social structure of traditional leadership that was designed to be for the good of the people” (Mabuhay 6 December 2009).

 

‘... my sense of history leads me to believe that somehow we all share the blame to a certain extent… as a culture of impunity has, indeed, grown through
the years’