MAGUINDANAO MASSACRE: (Mis)Calculated Risks

Posted on November 28, 2009

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In the previous post, Maguindanao Massacre, a reader with the handle barbarichonesty commented thus:

i completely agree with you.

weird as this may sound, i have a feeling that vice mayor esmael had knowledge that this was going to happen but nevertheless sent his wife and cousins and the others to push through with the filing of his COC.

the way i see it, this was a win-win situation for him.
1. if the entourage could successfully file his COC, then it would be a big slap on the face of the ampatuans as he would be THE man who dared go against the giants, as no one dared to contest them before.

2. but if something bad happens to the convoy composing of women and journalists, then the vice mayor would automatically gain the edge due to public sentiments and outcry.

i feel for him. but i don’t feel his decision. he literally fed them to the sharks.

My response is:

I doubt very much that the Vice Mayor nor anybody for that matter had any inkling that such a massacre would happen.

First, the Mangudadatus are not nobodies. They hold various political positions in different municipalities as well as the governorship of the adjacent province of Sultan Kudarat. The governor’s driver was also in the convoy. They, too, maintain a private army.

Second, one sister of Esmail is the incumbent Vice Mayor of the Mangudadatu municipality. She therefore carried political prestige/power in her own right.

Third, two lawyers accompanied them. Criminal elements are usually afraid of lawyers

Fourth, dozens of journalists were in the convoy.

Fifth, they had notified the military and the police of their intention.

Sixth, their going to the Comelec office was well publicized in the province.

Seventh, in Islam, it is forbidden to harm women, children and the elderly in times of war or conflict.

The Mangudadatus must have thought that they had all the bases covered.

No politician in Mindanao or elsewhere would dare do anything untoward to such a company.

Even the Ampatuans would not dare do such a thing if they were left on their own. They must have had EXTERNAL support. We now know that the POLICE was with them. In fact, the killings were done in a POLICE CHECKPOINT. And we now know that the military refused to give protection because they claim that their troops were leaving Maguindanao for Samar. (How convenient! And what will they do in Samar?)

The Ampatuans and their cohorts must have been convinced that the truth would not be known. As in the scenario discussed in the previous post, they already planned to lay the blame on the MILF.

Note that Sec. Dureza claimed that the helicopter carrying him and Ampatuan,Jr. were fired upon. Certainly the Ampatuans would not fire upon their own. And the Mangudadatus would not do such a reckless thing, especially since all eyes were on them. So who else would have the capacity to fire upon a helicopter gunship high above the ground?

The first statements of Gibo, Ermita, and Puno mentioned the MILF. Then came Dureza’s claim. Were they laying the ground for a cover-up?

When Andal, Jr.’s uncle, the DOE Undersecretary, was interviewed, his voice cracked as if ready to cry while pleading to Datu Toto (Esmail Mangudadatu) not to believe the allegations that the Ampatuans did it. He certainly did not sound like a “giant” of a man.

Fortunately, Andal Ampatuan, Jr. dug his own grave further. In an ambush interview at the NBI, Andal, Jr. blurted out that he was innocent and accused the MILF. Andal Ampatuan, Jr. said something like, “Wala ako doon. Nasa municipio ako. Ang MILF ang gumawa niyan. Si Umbra Kato yan. Mga terorista sila!” (I was not there. I was in the municipal hall. The MILF did it. Umbra Kato did it. They are terrorists!)

Andal Jr’s outburst ended whatever hope for a cover-up. Well, it should.

So, I think the Mangudadatus’ decision was well-calculated. Unfortunately, they did not realize that they were dealing with powerful madmen — men and women mad for power.

Losing one’s loved ones could never be a WIN situation. Gaining a governorship, or even a presidency, could never compensate for the loss of the lives of one’s loved ones.

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