The Beginning Of The End

photo by jaileen jimeno for www.pcij.org

The arrest of the powerful Ampatuan patriarch (Andal Sr.) marked the beginning of the end of the most feared and loathed clan in Maguindanao.  The succeeding arrests of the other members of the clan has left the once untouchable family in a mess.  The truth of the matter is that they have been around for so long that they have lorded it over one of the country’s most impoverished provinces and they have sinisterly built up their presence by using fear and violence to stifle their opponents.  In fact, since the Ampatuan patriarch was appointed as officer-in-charge of the province in 1986, their political prominence began to rise as they established solid and powerful contacts with certain government entities.  Their mansions are for real.  Their private armies are a common sight.  They are well-known to silence anyone at the slightest provocation.   For so long, Malacanang has turned a blind eye on news about the Ampatuans’ excesses.  Why would Malacanang care?  In the 2007 midterm elections, Maguindanao delivered a 12-0 sweep to GMA’s senatorial line-up.  That bought more time for the Ampatuans to strengthen their grip of the province and eventually the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.    It seemed that they have the whole world in the palm of their hands.  Then the massacre of 57 happened.  That broke the camel’s back and signaled the collapse of the Ampatuan’s house of cards.  If for the longest time, the Philippine National Police and Philippine Army couldn’t put their acts together — it took the barbaric killing of the innocent men and women for them to finally shape up and dismantle the ivory tower of the Ampatuans.  It might take a while before real peace would descend on the province but we have enough reason to hope for the best.  Fate has finally caught up with the powerful and mighty.

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