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THE STORY goes that in his younger, wilder days, Andal Ampatuan Sr. — patriarch of the powerful family that holds sway over Maguindanao and much of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao — used to ride a horse as he led a band of armed men in forays to hinterland villages.

IN THE nation’s third poorest province, Maguindanao, the poverty incidence is a staggering 62 percent – five of every six residents live on less than a dollar a day. And by all indications, every single sixth resident who is not poor could be an Ampatuan by blood or affinity.

A RECENT conference of the Philippine Population Association had none of the media frenzy that usually attends the ongoing bail hearing for ex-Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., the prime suspect in the massacre of 57 people, including 32 media workers, in Maguindanao last November 23.

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