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The Ampatuans and their associates had 597 bank accounts, 500 hectares of real property assets, 130 motor vehicles, 420 firearms, and a private army many hundreds strong. Their scions now stand accused in the murder of 58 persons, including 32 journalists and media workers, in the Ampatuan Massacre of Nov. 23, 2009.

Judgment day by the court comes tomorrow for the 197 accused of multiple murder of 58 persons, including 32 journalists and media workers, in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao, on Nov. 23, 2009. For 10 years now, the widows and orphans of those killed had longed for justice.

The Ampatuans were Arroyo’s anointed lieutenants in ARMM, their alliance built largely on largesse. But the cash bonanza that Maguindanao secured from Arroyo failed dismally to alleviate the misery of the poor. Its poverty numbers grew parallel to the surge in the wealth of the Ampatuans, a clan given to flaunting its wealth, weapons, and wheels.