Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Ampatuans' Rise to Power Via Gloria Arroyo

It has come to our attention that several opinion editorials and blog posts have been spreading the erroneous claim that the Ampatuan family owes its rise to power to former President Cory Aquino after she assumed power in 1986. On the contrary, Cory removed Andal Ampatuan Sr., a known Marcos loyalist, and replaced him with his more benign relative, Datu Modi (or Bohdi) Ampatuan. We borrow from Ellen Tordesillas' blog a note from Fr. Eliseo "Jun" Mercado that clarifies things:

Note from Fr. Eliseo “Jun” Mercado:

Datu Andal Sr. was the henchman of Marcos in Maganoy in 1986.. He also was de facto mayor… acting since he was the vice mayor and already appointed as OIC.

Cory removed him from Office!!! I was a witness to that!

The Chief of Police, another Ampatuan yet non political and decent by the name of Datu Mod Ampatuan was appointed by Cory as OIC! I was the one who recommemnded for Datu Modi. He is an Ampatuan so he could maintain order and rule of law being the modest and clean chief of police in the place.

But in the first election post Cory, Datu Andal, Sr was back in power… since he was and still is the undisputed power in Maganoy.

I was the parish priest of Maganoy at the time and NAMFREL chair of the Province.

Although we believe that opinions should be respected, we must ask that these articles be based on the fair exposition of facts. Here are links to opinions on the Ampatuans, the family's warlord dominance, and its relationship with various presidents, particularly Gloria Arroyo, that do not distort:

The Long View: Playing to the gallery, Manuel L. Quezon III
Ampatuan dynasty grew under Arroyo, Gotcha By Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star)
More to the Point - The police and private armies, By Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid
The Maguindanao Massacre, Part 2, Fr. Jun Mercado, OMI

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Proclamation 1959 – Less Than Good Intentions

There must be better than good reason to declare Martial Law. The Black and White Movement wholeheartedly supports the clamor of our people for justice regarding the brutal massacre of innocent people in Maguindanao. We condole with the victims’ families, and we share in their grief. There is no doubt that the whole country was appalled and horrified at the brazen act, but we strongly urge caution at the use of such extreme measures as martial rule and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus to enforce the rule of law.

Our constitution allows martial rule only if there is lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. The “massing up of armed groups… the imminent threat of violence”, as mentioned by Armed Forces Chief of Staff, General Ibrado during a press conference, do not provide enough bases for this extreme action. Our constitution no longer allows martial law based on imminent threats.

We do not believe that this heinous crime warrants the imposition of martial law because the prerequisites for it have not been satisfied. Is the government so weak that it cannot enforce the arrest of those implicated without it? Is this the only way Gloria Macapagal Arroyo can deal with her friends, the Ampatuans? Does she really need to wield such vast powers?

The respect for human rights is of the utmost importance and should never be sacrificed for the sake of expediency, to cover up the inability of our police and military to affect these arrests, to keep peace and order in place.

We demand that Congress heed the Constitution and convene to revoke this proclamation. The declaration of a state of emergency should have been enough.

We cannot help but suspect that this government has more in mind than just imposing justice on one family, albeit a powerful one, in Maguindanao. The end does not justify the means. The danger is in the perceived comfort level that the public may at first experience from the strength of such an action.

We caution, and remind, that this was the initial reaction to the imposition of martial law when the dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, announced it in 1972. We urge vigilance. Let us not be lulled into complacency, beguiled by seemingly good intentions. - END