Saturday, 28 November 2009 13:57
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“The buck stops with Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. himself,” Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro said, adding that government must act now.
Former Defense Secretary Teodoro, now the administration’s presidential candidate on Friday, said that criminal liability should go up to the Ampatuan clan patriarch in the case of the massacre of at least 57 people, many of them women and journalists, in Maguindanao province in southern Mindanao on November 23.
“A crime this massive, this heinous and this barbaric could only have been perpetrated with the active hand and imprimatur of the ultimate authority within the Ampatuan clan, and that is no other than Gov. Ampatuan Sr. himself,” Teodoro, now the standard-bearer of the administration party—Lakas-Kampi Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD)—in the 2010 elections, said in a statement.
Ampatuan Sr. is the governor of Maguindanao, and his son Andal Ampatuan Jr. is the prime suspect in the mass killing of relatives of their political rivals and of the women and the journalists who were only accompanying the Ampatuan opponents’ kin when they were murdered.
Ampatuan Jr., the mayor of Datu Unsay town in Maguindanao, surrendered to authorities on Thursday, denied that he had masterminded the massacre and pointed to separatist rebels from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as the killers. The MILF laughed off his allegation.
Teodoro said, “While I laud the swift action taken by our law-enforcement authorities in initiating inquest proceedings on Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., I urge them to look at the overall circumstances and context within which a warlord clan works. The premeditation and brazenness with which the massacre was carried out point to a conspiracy that could only have been planned, hatched and approved by the one who ultimately decides for the family, and that is no other than Gov. Ampatuan Sr. himself.”
Earlier, Teodoro offered his services as a lawyer to the families of the victims of the carnage. Teodoro, from Harvard Law, is a Bar topnotcher.
“The trail of evidence leads to the topmost layer of the Ampatuan hierarchy, which as a warlord family operates no differently from a dreaded mafia. Such a clan, such an organization and such a ruthless criminal mindset have no place in a just and civilized society like ours,” he said.
Stamp out warlords
Teodoro called for the stamping out of warlords in the country.
“The revolt and revulsion we have felt as a nation over this dastardly act is a renewed call to end warlordism in Mindanao now. It is at the root of corruption and oppression that in turn breed violence, poverty and hopelessness in these parts of southern Philippines. We must put an end to it by pulling it out by its roots. If we don’t, the innocent men and women in the massacre in Maguindanao will have died in vain.”
He also called for swift action against Gov. Ampatuan Sr.
“The first order of the day is to make Gov. Ampatuan Sr. accountable. He has blood in his hands. He must be arrested and prosecuted for mass murder now,” Teodoro said.
THE MANILA TIMES