DAVAO CITY – The Ampatuans, Mangudadatus, Midtimbangs, Sinsuats, Masturas, Sangkis comprise the majority among Maguindanao’s 879 candidates running for 374 posts: two congressional representatives to Congress, one governor, one vice-governor, 10 provincial board members, 36 mayors, 36 vice mayors and 288 municipal board members or councilors.
The Ampatuans lead the list of candidates with 50 carrying the same surname, at least 23 of them directly related to the patriarch, Datu Andal Ampatuan, Sr., and 18 with Ampatuan as middle name, according to records of the Commission on Elections.
Among the Ampatuans running are the patriarch, Datu Andal Ampatuan, Sr., the three-term governor of Maguindanao who resigned in January 2009 and returned as OIC governor in late 2009 (he was OIC governor when the November 23 massacre in Ampatuan town happened).
He is running for vice governor as an Independent candidate against three others, including his daughter Shaydee Ampatuan-Abutazil. His other opponents are Ma-arouph Bajunaid Candao and Ismael “Dustin” Veloso Mastura.
The Ampatuans were Lakas-Kampi members until evening of November 24 when the party expelled the patriarch and his sons.
Ampatuan Sr. is detained in a military hospital in this city; his sons Datu Zaldy, Datu Anwar and Datu Sajid are detained in General Santos City with his son-in-law Datu Akmad Ampatuan Sr., husband of eldest daughter Rebecca.
Datu Sajid, Ampatuan’s youngest son with first wife Laila Uy, is running for board member in the second district along with Datu Sarip Kasan and Puti Mamasapano Ampatuan.
Ampatuan Sr., and Sajid were unopposed when they ran for governor and vice governor in 2007. But Ampatuan Sr., resigned in January 2009 following the Supreme Court decision declaring unconstitutional the creation by the ARMM’s Regional Legislative Assembly, of the province of Shariff Kabunsuan which was earlier carved out of Maguindanao.
Andal Sr. claimed he had no mandate from Shariff Kabunsuan voters. A “New Maguindanao” was how the reconstituted Maguindanao was called. ARMM Governor Datu Zaldy Ampatuan named Sajid as OIC Maguindanao governor and his brother in-law Akmad, mayor of Mamasapano town, as OIC vice governor.
Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan, Jr., mayor of Datu Unsay town who was supposed to run for governor of Maguindanao, is presently detained at the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila. Ampatuan is principal suspect in the November 23, 2009 massacre of at least 58 persons (32 of them from the media) in Ampatuan, Maguindanao.
The massacre victims, including six persons who happened to pass the highway at the wrong time, were on their way to the provincial office of the Commission on Elections in Shariff Aguak town to file the certificate of candidacy of Buluan vice mayor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, who was running for governor.
Wives, children, too
The detained Datu Zaldy was reelected ARMM Governor in August 2008. His term is supposed to end on September 30, 2011. His wife and daughter are now running for mayor and councilor of Datu Hoffer Ampatuan.
Datu Andal, Jr., was not able to file his certificate of candidacy before he was taken into the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation on November 26 but his wife is running for mayor of Datu Unsay town.
Datu Sajid’s wife is also running for mayor of Shariff Saydona Mustapha town while Datu Akmad and his children are running for top posts in Mamasapano.
Datu Zaldy’s wife, Bongbong is running for mayor of Datu Hoffer town while the eldest daughter, 20 year old Bai Noraillah Kristina is running for the Sangguniang Bayan (municipal board).
In Mamasapano, the political empire of the Ampatuan-Ampatuan (Rebecca Ampatuan, the eldest child of Datu Andal Sr. and Bai Laila Uy; and husband Datu Akmad Masukat Ampatuan, Sr., is apparently following the tradition set by the patriarch of fielding family members to run for the town’s elective posts.
But due to the uncertainties brought about by the expulsion of the Ampatuans from the ruling party in post-massacre Maguindanao, instead of the usual fielding of one candidate, two candidates from the same family branch are now being fielded – the Ampatuan-Uy branch fielding Andal Sr. against daughter Shaydee Ampatuan-Abutazil for Maguindanao vice governor – while the Ampatuan-Ampatuan branch is fielding brother against brother and daughter against father.
Brother vs Brother
Mohammad Bahnarin Ampatuan Ampatuan, was elected vice mayor of Mamasapano in 2007 with his father, Mayor Datu Akmad “Tato” Masukat Ampatuan Sr., (they ran, along with the board members, unopposed). Bahnarin was named acting mayor when his father was appointed OIC Vice Governor of Maguindanao in January 1999. Bahnarin, among those still being hunted for the massacre and for rebellion, filed his certificate for candidacy for mayor as an Independent, against his brother, Tahirodin Benzar Ampatuan (Ind), Apisa Paglala Mascud (Lakas-Kampi) and Mama Alegria Masukat, Jr., (Ind).
Bahnarin’s and Benzar’s sister, Lady Sha-honey Ampatuan Ampatuan (Ind) is running for vice mayor against her father, Akmad “Tato” Masukat Ampatuan (Ind), Mahani Udeg Kalukal (Lakas-Kampi) and Jalandoni Sendad Masukat (Ind).
Four more Ampatuans are running for municipal councilor: Anwarudin Masukat Ampatuan, Mahir Masukat Ampatuan, Mohamad Nor Abdilla Ampatuan and Usman Unto Ampatuan, all running Independent.
Yacob “Datu Jack” Lumenda Ampatuan told MindaNews in a telephone interview that, indeed, the uncertainty pervading during their meeting before the deadline of filing for candidacy, prompted them to field two candidates “just in case.”
Yacob is running for mayor of Rajah Buayan against his brother Kuzbari.
All in the family
In Shariff Aguak town, Anwar Uy Ampatuan, Sr., mayor until his arrest on December 5, is running for vice mayor (Ind) while his wife Zahara Upam Ampatuan is running for mayor (Ind).
Zahara is running against Abdugani Adam Butuan (Ind), Datu Peka Singgit Mangacop (Ind) and Zainodin Mustapha Paglala (Lakas-Kampi).
Anwar Sr. is running against Menzi Mendeg Balabaran (Ind) and Noraisa Gadao Paglala (Lakas-Kampi).
Three of their children are running for councilor: Anhara Upam Ampatuan (Ind), Anwar Upam Ampatuan, Jr., (Ind) and Rowella Upam Ampatuan. Also running are relatives Farisha Imam Ampatuan, Norodin Datumanong Ampatuan and Syrah Fatima Biruar Ampatuan, all of them Independent candidates.
Reshal Santiago Ampatuan (Ind), first wife of Datu Andal Jr. is running for mayor of Datu Unsay town against Aisa Salman Paglala and Said Sinapal Salik, Sr.
Two other Ampatuans are running for councilor in Datu Unsay town: Abdullah Kaliangget Ampatuan and Pandag Salibo Ampatuan.
In Datu Saudi Ampatuan town, incumbent mayor Saudi Biruar Ampatuan, Jr. (Ind), is running for mayor against Kindtu Umar Datucali (Lakas-Kampi) and Diego Dianal Mamalapat (Ind).
Saudi Jr’s brother, Saudi Biruar Ampatuan III is running for vice mayor against Tamano Kamaong Mamalapat (Ind) and Zainudin Rakman Salik (Lakas-Kampi).
Their mother, Soraida Macarimbang Biruar Ampatuan (widow of Saudi Ampatuan Sr.,) is running for vice mayor of Parang while Saudi Jr.’s wife, Jehan-jehan Lepail Ampatuan is running for councilor of Saudi Ampatuan town.
Manny “Badboy” Upam Ampatuan and Nasser Ampatuan Datumanong are also running for councilor.
In Shariff Saydona Mustapha, Zandria Sinsuat Ampatuan, wife of detained former OIC Governor Sajid Ampatuan, and presently acting mayor of the new town, is running for mayor (Ind) against Mando Kambal Bituanen with Ameerah Ampatuan Mamalapat running for vice mayor (Ind) against Hamin Kelo Timbao.
Two more Ampatuans are running for councilor: Michelle Sakal Ampatuan and Zainal Buto Ampatuan.
Mangudadatus, Masturas, Sinsuats
Fifteen Mangudadatus are running, 10 of them carrying the surname. The remaining five are using Mangudadatu as their middle name.
Esmael “Toto” Gaguil Mangudadatu is running for governor (Lakas-Kampi) with Ismael “Dustin” Veloso Mastura as his running mate.
Esmael’s brothers, Datu Ibrahim Gaguil Mangudadatu, Zaid Gaguil Mangudadatu and Freddie Gaguil Mangudadatu are running for mayor of the towns of Buluan, Pandag and Mangudadatu, respectively. They’re all running under Lakas-Kampi.
Freddie is a sure winner as he is running unopposed along with Prince Mangudadatu Dilangalen and the entire slate of eight council bets, among them Jackson Kanda Mangudadatu and Fort Mangudadato Daniel.
Other Mangudadatus running for councilor in Buluan are Datu Mikisnan Kanda Mangudadatu and Kugao Dalimbang Mangudadatu. Also running are Macaraton Mangudadato Bedial , Bai Rhamla Mangudadatu Kadalim and Esmael Mangudadatu Piang.
Zaid Gaguil Mangudadatu is (Lakas-Kampi) is running against Jocelyn Tee Adam (Ind) and Seno Piang Adam, Jr. (Ind). His running mate is Dahlia Uko Magundadatu (Lakas-Kampi). The other vice mayoralty bets are Bai Babai Gaguil Mangudadatu and Esmail Midsalipag Padao.
Among those running for councilor in Pandag is Datu Kubo Mangudadatu and Sali Banog Mangudadatu.
The Mastura clan has two mayors and a vice mayor even before the election campaign could begin.
Tucao Ong Mastura, is running for mayor of Sultan Kudarat while incumbent mayor Armando Talusan Mastura of Sultan Mastura is running for reelection. Both are unopposed.
Incumbent Sultan Kudarat mayor Shajida Biruar Mastura, daughter of Tucao, is running for vice mayor, unopposed.
Ismael Veloso Mastura, son of Datu Michael O. Mastura and Lourdes Veloso, is running for Maguindanao vice governor under Lakas-Kampi, as running mate of Esmael Gaguil Mangudadatu.
The Sinsuats have a mayor, vice mayor and two councilors even before the campaign could start. Brothers Lester Siesmundo Sinsuat and Sajid Siesmundo Sinsuat (B.Bayan-VNP) are running for mayor and vice mayor, unopposed, along with their slate of eight council bets, among them Dexter Datumanong Sinsuat (Ind) and Osmena Lucas Sinsuat III (Ind).
Datu Ombra Quesada Sinsuat, the father of Lester and Sajid, is the incumbent mayor of Datu Odin Sinsuat. He is running for governor under B. Bayan-VNP. Two other Sinsuats, Michael I Cueto Sinsuat and Russman Quesada Sinsuat are running for the provincial board’s first district with Asnawi Sinsuat Limbona. – Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews