Ampatuan Massacre Raises Level of Barbarity in Philippine Politics

The impunity in recent political killings in the Philippines could have emboldened the Ampatuan clan to commit the massacre. If the perpetrators of more than a thousand extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of political activists could walk scot-free, perhaps, they thought, they could get away with killing less than a hundred people.


MANILA — The Ampatuan massacre last November 23 shocked the nation and the world. It was shocking not only because of its ferocity, claiming the lives of 57 innocent people including passers by, and barbarity, which included the rape of women, desecration of bodies and beheading of some victims, but also because of the brazenness in the commission of such abhorrent atrocities. Even lawyers and journalists, who were there to witness the filing of certificate of candidacy of vice mayor Datu Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu of Buluan town supposedly to prevent any untoward incident from happening to Mangudadatu’s relatives and supporters, were brutally killed.

Violence is regular fare in local politics. Political dynasties are maintained by guns, goons, and gold. This is not surprising as the heads of powerful clans are big landlords who maintain private armies to keep their peasants in check, to grab lands from small landowners, and to use against their political rivals during elections. Abra Representative Luis “Chito” Bersamin Jr. was killed in broad daylight in front of the Mount Carmel Church in Quezon City in December 2006, five months before the May 2007 elections. Former Abra governor Vicente Isidro Valera, political rival of the Bersamins, is the main suspect in the killing.

The country’s local politics is filled with stories of violence involving warring clans and political camps. For as long as big landowners with their private armies lord it over the provinces, employing their private armies and using the police to protect their interests, violence in local politics would not cease.

However, the Ampatuan massacre stands out because of the sheer number of victims and the brutality by which they were killed. The victims were not armed nor do they all belong to the Mangudadatu clan, Ampatuan’s political rival. Innocent civilians such as lawyers, journalists, and passers by were abducted and brutally killed. In fact, they comprise the majority of the victims.

Very few cases of violence in local politics could compare to the Ampatuan massacre in terms of ferocity, brutality, and brazenness. Perhaps only the Oro Este massacre in Ilocos in 1970 could parallel it. In the Oro Este massacre, the private army of the Crisologo clan led by Bingbong Crisologo burned a whole village for being supporters of the Singson clan. However, it still pales in comparison to the barbarity of the Ampatuan massacre.

By all indications, the Ampatuan massacre was well-planned. The killers had a backhoe and pits for graves ready. They have reportedly been waiting for Mangudadatu to file his certificate of candidacy for governor for two days. And it was not as if the police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were caught unprepared. A journalist who luckily escaped being killed because he and his companions had to do some errands and were not able to leave with the seven-vehicle convoy reported that the police and AFP were informed of the threat to the lives of the people who joined the convoy. But still nothing was done to prevent the incident. Worse, some police officials in the province are being implicated in the massacre.

How could the killers be so brazen?

The suspected perpetrator, Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., his brother Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor Zaldy Ampatuan and his father Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. are all allies of the Arroyo administration. The main suspect, Andal Jr., even attended the recent Lakas-CMD convention where Gilbert Teodoro was declared as the administration’s bet for president.

It is this closeness to the Arroyo government that emboldened the Ampatuan clan. It would be recalled that in the “Hello Garci” tapes, a woman believed to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was caught talking with a person from the Commission on Elections widely believed to be Virgilio Garcillano asking the latter to ensure that she wins by one million votes against the late Fernando Poe Jr.. Arroyo’s votes were allegedly padded at the ARMM and Cebu. The whole senatorial slate of the administration won in Maguindanao and Poe, Arroyo’s rival, supposedly did not get a single vote in at least three towns.

Added to this, since the legitimacy of the Arroyo government came under question in 2005, Arroyo has been relying on her allies in Congress and local government to keep herself in power. She has been coddling, bribing and protecting its political allies ever since.

The impunity in recent political killings in the Philippines could also have emboldened the Ampatuan clan to commit the massacre. If the perpetrators of more than a thousand extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of political activists could walk scot-free, perhaps, they thought, they could get away with killing less than a hundred people.

Justice should be served to the victims of these abhorrent acts but the Arroyo government has been reluctant in applying the full force of the law on the Ampatuan clan, especially Andal Jr. It took three days before the AFP and the police moved in to arrest the suspects and contain the Ampatuan clan. The Filipino people should, therefore, be persistent and vigilant in pushing for justice for the victims. Otherwise, once the massacre is no longer in the headlines, the case would likewise gather dust.

However, for as long as big landowners lord it over the provinces, warlord politics and its concomitant violence would persist. What the Maguindanao massacre just did was to raise the level of violence and barbarity in Philippine politics.

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    Once upon a time I´ve read in a certain journal that most criminals are stupid in the sense that most of them get caught during or after a perpetration of a crime or crimes. In this context, I´d like to say (and believe) that the Ampatuans who masterminded and did the horrendous crime in Maguindanao belong to the stupidest of the most stupid criminals on earth, and the committment of the massacre was more of stupidity than madness, or any kind of mind-boggling brain malady. Because if they are not stupid they would have realized, known and recognized, even while planning the operation that, with the resonance that would reverberate not only throughout the Philippines but all over the world were it to take place–and it did– they would not get away unscathed and would not have proceeded with it–the most despicable and puke-inducing crime in Philippine history. But because they are ignorant like mosquitos and sharks, they did it, their stupidity magnified and manifested in their dull-witted belief and arrogance that they are untouchables, that they are sovereign beings answerable only to themselves–not to God (obviously) not to the law of the land, and certainly not to the hate, fury, condemnation and contempt of the people. If these people are not stupid, then they are gifted with extraordinary foresight: they see and believe that we are a nation of zombie-like denizens with somnambulistic character, immune and blind to anything, including stupidtiy!

    I keep reiterating the word “stupid” here simply because it is apparently the norm in the innermost being of these murderers, among and above all their succubi-like characteristics. They´re evil, alright, but they can´t be evil if they understand logic and reason; because if they are not so stupid they can prevent themselve from becoming inhuman; simple as that.

    But compared with the astonishing display of mind-dullnessness in killing those people, their stupidity in executing the bewildering animalistic brutality to their victims defies all logic. For instance, why did the executioners,including Ampatuan Jr., especially Junior, have to mutilate and desecrate the victims during and after the slaughter? Recent news have it that the women were shot in their genitals and their breasts were cut off even after they were dead. The corpses couldn´t be hurt anymore, so why did the animals continue to desecrate them? Necrophiliac self-satisfaction, maybe? Or they did those grisly and horrific actions to add unmeasurable insult to unspeakable injury to spite their survivors further? The horrible deaths of their loved ones were not enough for the monsters` maniacal and sadistic needs to inflict suffering?

    Precisely! And this satanic motive of spiting the survivors of the victims was very probable, because if their intention in planning and committing the massacre was to threaten, dissuade or eliminate a political opponent in whatever way their minuscule brains dictate, they would have simply killed them all; no mutilations, desecrations and exhibitions of sexual prowess. But because their other demonic objectives were to give examples and instill fear to others and ascribe pain to the survivors, mightily, which they will carry for as long as they live, especially to those who crossed them and whom perhaps they fear, personally and politically. And here lies their inherent stupidity at its highest level.

    Because although they tried to hide their crime, the pus-brained perpetrators apparently had a conscious desire for it to be known, most especially the additional but needless brutal destruction of the bodies–understimating and not minding the furor that would follow, due to their delusional belief in their invincibility and untouchability that were the results of their utmost stupidity–which is clearly intended to the psychological detriment of some specific survivors, or all, including the survivors of the media people–to remove from the latter the umbrella-protection from harm or death while they do their job donned with their ubiquitous
    mantle, literal and figurative, as journalists.

    It is very probable that these “berdugos,” among those 100 or more willing executioners, who actually did the cruel executions and mutilations, have blood ties with the Ampatuans, be near or far removed, basing on the way they conducted the satanic task proffered to them, for there seemed to be a collective hate in their beings that made them act in similar fashion and demeanor; they were like a malleable poisonous matter kneaded into one succubus.

    Everyone is unique, and a collective uniform of hate from 100 individuals, or more, can´t be infused with any amount of money for them to become a single– again–succubus and do that kind of thing. So either they are all closely related or they are all long-time trusted buddies of the Ampatuans who also carry the torch of hate against those despised by their bosses.

    It appears that the bottom line in all this is, “Kill, mutilate, desecrate! The more, the merrier! Inflict pain and cruelty as never done before! You can catch me world, but you can´t touch me! Such arrogance and tunnel vision!

    So if these sub-humans are not the lowest of the lowest, the stupidest of the stupid, then I am Abraham Lincoln camouflaging as me.

    Now I regress in my belief that a shark is the stupidest creature on earth.
    An anecdote relates that when a shark is caught and eviscerated and its innards thrown on one side of a sea vessel, the shark, thrown on the other side while still alive, will swim towards its own viscera and eat it.

    I realized now that it is simply an instinct of the shark to satisfy its hunger, its need for food. It´s not stupidity.

    With all due respect to all the victims, I am not trivializing the monstrosity of the massacre, and their deaths, by emphasizing the otherwise benign meaning of the word stupid. On the contrary, my objective here is to magnify the despicable crime a million times for all those who read this: that multiple, sacred and precious lives were senselessly snuffed out by a few whose eartly motives and belief rendered them so dull-witted so as to be able to commit the massacre.

    Benny “Vincent” Santos

  2. May nga sinabi sa mga text na, in case maitiwalag ang mga ampatuans sa kani-kan ilang katungkulan… mamaumugot daw sila ng ulo, kahit sino, makasalubong man o madaanan.THREAT? nakakatakot na nakakainis, na wala na bang magawa ang pamahalaan dito? takot sa mga ampatuan o talaga lang walang silbi.

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