MAGUINDANAO:The Quest for Justice is a documentary produced by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism on the second anniversary of the Maguindanao Massacre. After two years, the Ampatuans have allegedly ramped up efforts to reach a settlement with the families of the victims. The families of the victims continue to hold out against the proposed settlement, even as they try to survive from day to day. In the meantime, the Ampatuan clan continues to wield clout in the region with its vast resources and continuing political influence.
On November 23, 2009, 58 people were murdered by a local warlord from Maguindanao in the worst case of election violence in Philippine history. Police have charged members of members of the powerful and wealthy Ampatuan clan for the murder of the 58, who were in a convoy to the local election office to file the candidacy papers of a challenger to the incumbent political family.
Among the victims were 32 journalists, mostly from Central Mindanao. The incident marks the largest number of journalists killed in a single incident in the world, making the Philippines the most dangerous place for journalists in 2009. A year later, hope still flickers for the families of the victims, but the path to justice has been unbearably slow.
Legal experts warned of a looming crisis in the justice system after public prosecutors openly defied an order by Acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra to drop the murder charges against two prominent members of the Ampatuan clan accused of involvement in the November 23 Maguindanao Massacre last year.Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Governor Roan […]
THE COMMISSION on Audit (COA) is probably used to seeing dismal book-keeping from government units, but in the last several years, it seems to have become particularly challenged in trying to keep track of the accounts of Maguindanao and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Since 2002, the state auditing agency, in various reports, has repeatedly raised adverse findings about the lack of transparency, inadequate documentation of expenses, disallowed or irregular or unliquidated disbursements, and mismatched or irreconcilable entries in bank balances and financial reports of ARMM and Maguindanao, as well as unverified or unavailable physical inventory of equipment and properties supposedly purchased with public funds there.
THE STORY goes that in his younger, wilder days, Andal Ampatuan Sr. — patriarch of the powerful family that holds sway over Maguindanao and much of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao — used to ride a horse as he led a band of armed men in forays to hinterland villages.
IN THE nation’s third poorest province, Maguindanao, the poverty incidence is a staggering 62 percent – five of every six residents live on less than a dollar a day. But in the midst of all that poverty, Maguindanao and the Ampatuans have always been awash in cash, not so much because of any economic activity of note. The cash came nearly entirely from Manila, courtesy of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who has pampered the province and the clan as if they were her spoiled twins.
It has been four months since the massacre in Maguindanao, in which the alleged main perpetrators are members of a rich and powerful clan. Until their detention, the principal suspects in the murder of 57 people on November 23, 2009 lived in mansions in the country’s third poorest province, in neighboring cities, and even in Metro Manila.
How they acquired their supposedly fabulous fortune cannot be explained in the documents submitted by the public officials among them. But an unbridled access to public monies may be one of the keys to the puzzle, as is the willingness of national government officials to tolerate even the excesses of a political ally.
A RECENT conference of the Philippine Population Association had none of the media frenzy that usually attends the ongoing bail hearing for ex-Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., the prime suspect in the massacre of 57 people, including 32 media workers, in Maguindanao last November 23.
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.
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