by Earlie Doriman
Regrettably, fifty seven lives or might be more, had to be sacrificed to uncover enormous wealth and heaps of weapon and ammunition concealed within the premises of the Ampatuans. It takes Martial Law in Maguindanao to pursue a family of politicians who have been in power for couple of decades and it needs an inconceivable massacre to discover millions-of-pesos worth of mansions.
More outrageous is the fact that behind all these, there is a suspicion of conspiracy with the supposed men in uniform whose primary function is to protect the majority rather than the few abusive individuals. When money does the talking, evil prevails and more often than not, even the most principled man becomes a slave of its power - this happened to the military commanders who were not able to function as expected, in the recent hostilities. When money rules, it consumes the mind of the helpless and eventually loses his sense of pride and character – this occurred to the civilian volunteers whose families waited for food on their tables. Whilst the powerful and the affluent continue its deception, the society becomes restive and vulnerable.
The Maguindanao Massacre becomes another eye opener to the many weaknesses in our politics. The disclosure that the guns and ammunition seized inside the properties of the Ampatuans have symbols and signs associating the military, points out that these are all owned by the government and the military in particular has something to do with the bloodshed either directly or indirectly. Plus the private armies whose salaries are taken from national budget, it is a kind of disgust beyond restore. How about the mansions numbering to more than twenty? It is just unbelievable how the political clan of the Ampatuans manage to enrich themselves with so much and not being discovered by the Commission on Audit if in truth they come from legitimate sources. How could it be possible for a governor or a mayor to earn so much from his position to fill a bank bolt with millions. How could a supposed public servant live in the luxury of a stately home when his province is one of the poorest in the country? In Maguindanao, one will see the contrast between WEALTH and POVERTY in a matter of a single turn. The four Ampatuan mansions grow like kings in the field of impoverish neighbourhood, portraying inequity and disparity of importance and supremacy.
The authorities have exposed that the clan of the Ampatuans have more than 20 houses (or mansions) all over the country. If each of these mansions has an average value of 100 million pesos, then it’s a fortune of a massive 2.0 billion, many times over than the government allocated budget for the entire province. But honestly, I should not be bothered if at all they wish to live a luxurious life. However, an overly excessive life in the midst of deprived constituents calls for a profound reflection. Well, I may just be barking at the wrong tree then about the ‘reflection’ stuff, because as matter of principles, killing innocent people for one’s political interests showed no conscience and therefore implies no respect for life, much more fear of God. No reflection then is effective to change or at least calm down an unlawful mind.
The turn of events in Maguindanao has led to unearth one secret to another. As to the question of how these events be dealt with is a query which the government is absolutely accountable. Each of the issues must be seriously investigated, assessed, and resolved the soonest possible time. The political will of our government leaders are put into the acid test especially now that the people involved are those whom President Arroyo has many narrow interests as far as her political career is concerned. Needless to emphasise how the Ampatuans gave her the votes she badly needed in the last 2004 presidential elections. How could she turn her back at this time from the allies who have allegedly rigged election results in her favour?
There are purportedly 28 mansions the clan of Ampatuans have all over the country. Aside from the four they have in the town of Sharrif Aguak in Maguindanao, they also have 19 houses in the major cities of Mindanao like Davao, Cotabato, and Koronadal. The rest of these expensive homes are monitored to be in key areas of Luzon such as Cavite, Manila, and Makati. I am personally aware about the mansions in Davao, as I was able to spot one of these million pesos worth of dwelling, in my recent vacation. It is situated in one of the pricey subdivisions between Matina and Ecoland. It’s a high fenced compound with a massive house capped with burgundy coloured roofing. The fence is so intricately designed which would tell a curious onlooker that it costs more than one expected.
The people are impatiently waiting with regards to the progress of the investigations. How long would it take to give justice to the aggrieved if at all justice is to be served. How serious is the government to chase all of those who took part in the killings? How about the security of the state witnesses whose declarations are so raw yet very credible to make our spontaneous judgment? What actions are to be taken against those military leaders who have committed gross negligence in the performance of their duties? I don’t think it is enough to relieve them from their ranks, because the truth of the issue is that they have indirectly participated in the massacre and they too should face tougher consequences. I candidly hope that the criminals will be punished before they could make a sham of this government. It remains worth pondering that justice delayed is justice denied.