BULUAN Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu, whose wife and two sisters were killed in the Nov. 23 massacre in Maguindanao, filed his certificate of candidacy for governor yesterday.
“Only death can stop me from running,” said Mangudadatu, escorted by soldiers, a police commander, a senior Army general, and Gilberto Teodoro, the former defense chief and the administration’s presidential candidate.
Mangudadatu submitted his documents to the Commission on Elections in the Maguindanao provincial capital of Sharrif Aguak and was immediately secured by supporters and bodyguards.
“I am definitely running for governor under the administration party,” Mangudadatu said, brushing aside speculation that he would defect to the Liberal Party.
Earlier, the Lakas-Kampi-CMD named Mangudadatu its new provincial chairman for Maguindanao, and after expelling incumbent Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan from the party.
The Maguindanao governor’s son, Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., has been charged with multiple murder for the massacre of 57 civilians in Ampatuan town.
Teodoro said the Ampatuans’expulsion was “a symbolic act of condemnation for the political clan’s failure to uphold the party’s ideals.”
Mangudadatu’s caravan of more than 50 vehicles took the same road where his wife Genalyn, his sisters Eden and Farinnah, supporters and journalists were stopped and killed Monday and their bodies dumped in mass graves.
People waved at the cars and raised their thumbs and in approval. But inside Shariff Aguak, the stronghold of the rival Ampatuan clan, the mood was different. There were no enthusiastic crowds with only a few pedestrians. Christine F. Herrera, Joseph Jubelag, AP