Cotabato City—Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu has accused his political rival and cousin in-law of rewriting history when she openly said that an “incident on 23 November 2009 killed the Ampatuan family” instead of members of their own clan among 58 massacre fatalities that day.
Mayor Marriam Sangki Mangudadatu of Datu Abdullah Sangki, Maguindanao is running for governor of the province against the incumbent’s brother, Mayor Freddie Mangudadatu of Mangudadatu town.
On Wednesday, the governor posted on social media a video of the mayor speaking onstage, telling her audience in Ampatuan town to “be aware of the November 23, 2009 incident” that they (leaders of that town) “are now allied with one who killed the Ampatuan family.”
“She is rewriting history if she recalls it [the incident] that way,” Governor Mangudadatu said.
The governor, who is no longer eligible to run after his current third term, said he was in the company of his Provincial Team in a medical mission in Ampatuan town when he was shown a video of the mayor’s public engagement in another barangay.
In the local Maguindanaon dialect, the transcript of the mayor’s line in her speech stated: “Mimaman tanu ka kanu timpu na 2009 Nov. 23, entain i minimatay sa pamilya Ampatuan. Namba i kinadtampil nu saguna,imaman kanu ka niya den ba a timpo a kapembago na inged tanu endu kapamagayun tanu.”
In his Facebook post, Governor Mangudadatu did not say he felt being alluded thereto, but offered this English translation of the mayor’s vernacular quote: “Let us be aware on 2009 Nov. 23, who killed the Ampatuan family, he is your ally now. Beware because today marks the beginning of reform of our society and our unity.”
The victims of the “November 23, 2009 incident” which came to be known as the Maguindanao Massacre, were members of his own family, friends and members of the media, the governor said, recalling that among those killed were his wife and two sisters.
But the governor Mangudadatu was more specific in identifying the culprits who, he said, have been charged in court, including “(his predecessor Datu) Andal Ampatuan Sr., his namesake son and their cohorts.”
However, a member of the mayor’s campaign team said that the “figurative expression” of Mayor Sangki-Mangudadatu’s speech suggests that she was referring to the “2009 November 23 incident, as the event (that) almost marked the political demise of the powerful Ampatuan clan.”
To this, Mangudadatu said he never lumped together the whole of the Ampatuan family into the massacre that killed immediate members of his family.
He said he had even appointed Nulfarid Ampatuan into a sensitive position as head of the Provincial Planning Office (PPO) of the Maguindanao Provincial Governor’s Office—on the sole basis of the appointee’s qualification, sans political factors.
In public engagements, the governor would often cite his staff, among them the chief PPO for credits of performance for the provincial “program of governments that have “propelled Maguindanao into its current development status of being MagandaNOW.”
“I never lumped the Ampatuans, many of them are doing good here working with us; we’ve never removed them,” Mangudadatu said, stressing this many times over in forums he held with leaders.
Some members of the Ampatuan family have been politically allied with Governor Mangudadatu for the coming polls, as it had been in past elections.