PRESIDENT BENIGNO S. AQUINO III has ordered a probe into reports that several members of the Ampatuan clan have been endorsed by the ruling Liberal Party (LP) for the 2013 local elections, media organizations reported on Tuesday.
The probe comes in the wake of a report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism that at least 9 members of the Ampatuan clan were included in the LP’s 2013 slate. The list includes Andal Ampatuan Sr.’s half-brother, Sarip Ampatuan, who is running for mayor of Shariff Aguak.
The PCIJ also found that 34 other candidates with the surname or middle name Ampatuan are running under the opposition’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino, led by former President Joseph Estrada, and the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban ng Pilipino (PDP-LABAN). The two parties make up the United Nationalist Alliance of Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the President ordered him, Energy Secretary Jun Abaya, and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas to conduct a probe into the matter, and determine if the endorsements of the Ampatuan candidates should be upheld by the party. Read the story that came out on GMANewsTV here.
Earlier, Senator Franklin Drilon, a senior member of the LP, strongly objected to the inclusion of the Ampatuans in the LP slate, given the role that prominent members of the clan had in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre.
For his part, UNA Secretary General Toby Tiangco had denied that the opposition coalition had endorsed any member of the Ampatuan clan. This, even though a list furnished by the Commission on Elections showed that 18 Ampatuans were running under the PDP-Laban, and another 16 were running under the PMP.
Interestingly, Tiangco said that the opposition alliance would have no problems endorsing the wife or brother of any of the Ampatuans who were charged for the massacre, so long as these candidates themselves were not involved in the crime. Tiangco said it would be unfair to remove the endorsement of a candidate just because of his last name.
The PCIJ had discovered that the wives of Zaldy Ampatuan and Andal Ampatuan Jr., both principally accused in the massacre, were running for a second term under the PDP-Laban.