Ampatuans in the 2013 elections

The prime suspects in the Philippine's worst political massacre: Andal Ampatuan (L); former governor of the Philippine …

An outcry in the media occurred recently over the fact that 72 people, according to the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), surnamed or middle-named Ampatuan are running for various offices in the province of Maguindanao.  This was in connection, of course, to the infamous Maguindanao massacre in which Governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr., sons and followers were charged of killing 58 persons, including 32 journalists.

Of the 72 ( counted it at 74), PCIJ counted 34 running with the United National Alliance (UNA), a coalition between Vice-President Jejomar Binay’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban ng Pilipino (PDP-Laban) and former President Joseph Estrada’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP). Nine Ampatuans are running with the Liberal Party.

How come this thing happened? Or, as some observers said, how come this was “permitted” by the Aquino administration? The answer, I think, lies in the various factors that affected the Maguindanao politics of the present.

First of all, the Ampatuan clan and its related clans formed a huge swath of Maguindanao electoral constituency, estimated at more than 60 percent of the voting population in the province. The province’s registered voters in the 2010 national and local elections numbered 652,933 voters, the largest in the whole ARMM. Of this number, some 443,386 or 67.91% voted. This was however whittled down considerably by the general registration of July 2012.

The Maguindanao votes during Andal Ampatuan’s time are considered as a huge command vote reserve due to his terror regime which intimidated or influenced the local governments, including the local Comelec, in the area. As such, even national politicians, whether incumbent or opposition, curry favors from him for all or part of this vote reserve.

Now, the Ampatuan clan vote has fragmented, with a part the clan siding with Governor Esmael “Toto” Mangungudato, the LP’s official candidate for governor. This consists of clan members who got in the way of Andal’s rise to power and those who were close to the Mangungudatos in the first place. To be sure, the Mangungudatos are considered part of the larger Ampatuan clan before the clash over the governorship in the 2010 elections.

The considerable number however remained intact outside of the Mangungudato influence. They are now orphaned, with most distancing themselves from Andal and his sons. They found refuge or ally with Mayor Tocao Mastura, the PDP-Laban official candidate for governor.

Secondly, the old adage “Politics is addition” still applies to the Maguindanao politics. This is where the traditional politicians only count the votes they get, not where these votes are coming from. From their point of view, a vote is a vote is a vote.

This unfortunately includes national politicians who have the 2016 presidential elections in mind. The Maguindanao votes are too tempting not to try to make sure that their local bets win in the local elections. The 2013 elections, for them, is the opportunity to build the vote base for the 2016 elections. If they know anything about the Ampatuan candidacies, they deny it, and as long as this does not become a big issue that would lead to vote loses elsewhere, the pragmatic view here is to tacitly accept these.

At the end of the day, the Ampatuan vote may not anymore be the potent block it once was. The question therefore is: Does it matter whether you get it or not? For many, as the outcry manifests, the costs are simply too high.

Ramon Casiple is a well-respected political analyst. He is also the Executive Director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER).


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires
    Sy moves up, Villar enters Forbes list of billionaires

    Eleven Filipinos are included in Forbes’ 2015 list of richest people in the world. Filipino-Chinese tycoon Henry Sy Sr. continues to be the wealthiest man in the Philippines. The 90-year-old SM supermalls, banking and property tycoon ranked 73rd among the world’s richest with an increased net worth of $14.2 billion from $11.4 billion last year. Sy’s net worth was attributed to the continued growth of his SM Investments Corp. and his more recent venture, the City of Dreams Manila resort and …

  • Jolo apologizes to Bong in visit
    Jolo apologizes to Bong in visit

    Cavite Vice Gov. Jolo Revilla wept and embraced his father as he apologized for the “accidental” shooting incident in their Ayala Alabang residence, the family’s spokesman said yesterday. Lawyer Raymund Fortun came out of the private room at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa City to speak to reporters, who were barred from entering the hospital compound during the visit of Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. …

  • N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills
    N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills

    North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea and vowed "merciless" retaliation Monday as the US and South Korea kicked off joint military drills denounced by Pyongyang as recklessly confrontational. The annual exercises always trigger a surge in military tensions and warlike rhetoric on the divided peninsula, and analysts saw the North's missile tests as a prelude to a concerted campaign of sabre-rattling. "If there is a particularly sharp escalation, we could see the …

  • No need for Revilla to visit son – prosecutors
    No need for Revilla to visit son – prosecutors

    Instead of filing an opposition, ombudsman prosecutors filed a manifestation yesterday expressing belief that there is no urgent need for Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. to visit his son at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center. “Based on the clinical abstract issued by the Asian Hospital on patient (Cavite) Vice-governor (Jolo) Revilla, which was submitted by accused Revilla in support of his Urgent Motion, Vice-governor Revilla is in stable condition and has stable vital signs, as of March 1, …

  • Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media
    Australian drug smugglers being taken to Indonesian island for execution - media

    By Jane Wardell and Beawiharta SYDNEY/DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) - Two convicted Australian drug smugglers were removed from a prison in Bali on Wednesday to be taken to an Indonesian island where they will be shot by firing squad, Australian media reported. The planned executions of Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, have ratcheted up diplomatic tensions amid repeated pleas of mercy for the pair from Australia and thrown a spotlight on Indonesia's increasing use of the death …

  • Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together
    Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — After spending 67 years together as devoted husband and wife, there was no question how Floyd and Violet Hartwig would end their lives — together. …

  • Another source of SAF execution video identified
    Another source of SAF execution video identified

    The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is still tracing the source of the video showing one of the wounded police commandos being finished off by Muslim rebels during the encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. A source from the Department of Justice (DOJ) said they have identified two persons who first uploaded the video that went viral over social networking sites. The supposed source of the video was elusive and claimed that somebody just placed it on an external drive. The …

  • How Islamic is Islamic State group? Not very, experts say
    How Islamic is Islamic State group? Not very, experts say

    CAIRO (AP) — Three British schoolgirls believed to have gone to Syria to become "jihadi" brides. Three young men charged in New York with plotting to join the Islamic State group and carry out attacks on American soil. A masked, knife-wielding militant from London who is the face of terror in videos showing Western hostages beheaded. …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options