Warlords in the Philippines
On November 23rd 2009, an unprecedented election related massacre took place in the Southern province of Maguindanao. 58 persons lost life in the mass execution allegedly ordered by the Amputuan clan’s patriach, the former governor of the province: Andal Ampatuan Senior.
On February, prosecutors charged 197 suspects. The indictment accused Andal Ampatuan Senior, 25 relatives, 65 soldiers and police officers, and 106 militiamen to be behind the ambush and the killings of members and supporters of the rival Mangudadatu family. Charges of rebellion over the maintenance of the militia are still pending against the clan patriarch.
Among those killed were 30 journalists, covering the ongoing election, in addition to the wife and women relatives of Esmail Mangudadatu, the rival clan’s leader.
Ordinary people are careful to toe the mark and reluctant to speak up facing Amputuan’s influential position. Indeed Ampatuans are political leaders and present in at least 50 local ongoing elections. Andal Ampatuanar Senior himself is running for vice governor from his jail.
Several other candidates are from the Mangudadatu clan. Between 1995 and 2009, the number of municipalities in the province of Maguindano increased, which will goad deadly rivalries. Undoubtedly grants from Manila will be recycled into weapons.
Small politicians aspire to be warlords and increase their sphere of influence by hiring militia and rustling up votes. The president, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, is indebted to the Ampatuans after the delivery of crucial votes during the 2004 election.
What is going to follow makes us wonder about the government’s preparation to face and disarm the warlords.
The Economist: The warlord’s way
Al Jazeera: Philippines massacre charges filed