MANILA, Philippines – Three years after the Maguindanao massacre, the ruling Liberal Party (LP) and the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) will not endorse members of the Ampatuan family who are running in the 2013 elections.
Sen. Franklin Drilon, LP campaign manager, said the LP will not endorse any Ampatuan member running in next year's polls. In its report, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism said nine Ampatuan clan members are running under the ruling party.
"Hindi po tuwid na daan yan kung papayagan natin. Ang sama ng kanilang - they represent the opposite of what we stand for," he told radio DZMM.
Drilon said it was their own candidate, Maguindanao Gov. Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu, who decided to issue certificates of nomination and acceptance (CONA) to at least 9 Ampatuan members. He said the LP national leadership was not consulted about Mangudadatu's decision.
Mangudadatu earlier said he decided to issue CONAs to several Ampatuan members running in 2013 since they are no longer allied with former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., the alleged mastermind in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre.
Mangudadatu's wife was among the 58 victims of the massacre.
Drilon said the LP leadership will no longer ask Mangudadatu for an explanation but will just revoke the CONAs.
He said that while he understands that some Ampatuan members are not involved in the massacre, he still does not want them to join the ruling party.
UNA also won't back Ampatuans
Similarly, Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco, UNA secretary general, said their coalition did not give CONAs to 34 Ampatuans running in the elections as reported by the PCIJ.
"I request the PCIJ para kung mayroon silang nakuhang kopya ng Ampatuan family, sana ho ipadala sa amin para ma-validate sa amin. We have to check our records kung bakit sa record namin wala, at doon sa imbestigasyon ng PCIJ ay mayroon," Tiangco told dzMM.
The PCIJ, in its report said among those running under UNA, a coalition between the Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban (PDP-Laban) and Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), include:
- Johaira Ampatuan, wife of former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor and principal massacre suspect Zaldy Ampatuan, running for a second term as mayor of Datu Hoffer town under the PDP-LABAN;
- Reshal Ampatuan, wife of former Datu Unsay Mayor and principal massacre suspect Andal Ampatuan Jr., running for a second term as mayor of Datu Unsay under the PMP;
- Akmad Ampatuan Jr, who was implicated in the planning of the massacre, running for councilor of Mamasapano under the PDP-LABAN;
- Zahara Ampatuan, wife of Anwar Ampatuan Sr., who is among those charged and detained for the massacre, running for another term as Mayor of Shariff Aguak under the PMP banner.
If any member of the Ampatuan family was indeed included in UNA, Tiangco said the coalition will have to revoke their CONA.
"Kung mayroon mang mismong nasasakdal na naisyuhan ng CONA ng UNA, eh yan talaga iwi-withdraw namin yan," he said.
UNA approval needed
Tiangco explained that a candidate of PDP-Laban or PMP may not necessarily be a candidate of UNA.
He said any PMP or PDP-Laban candidate cannot officially become an UNA candidate since the coalition officials still have to approve applications for CONA.
"Although admittedly ang PDP Laban at PMP ay coalition members of UNA, kung PDP-Laban (ang na-cite na membership sa report), ibig sabihin hindi finorward ng PDP-Laban ang nomination for that person sa UNA… Kung bakit 'di finorward, huindi ko masaasgot yan," he said.
Tiangco also cited an instance where a PMP candidate was not given a CONA under UNA due to reasons which he said were internal to the coalition.