The Maguindanao Massacre is unanimously viewed as the most tragic event in the Philippines that capped 2009. Fifty-seven helpless civilians including women and media people were cold-bloodedly slaughtered by policemen, military men, civilian-militia personnel and private-army members—all being fearfully and blindly subservient to the “omnipotent” Ampatuan warlord family of Maguindanao represented by the “trinity” of Andal Ampatuan, Sr., the erstwhile governor of Maguindanao; Zaldy Ampatuan, the erstwhile governor of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM); and Andal Ampatuan, Jr., the erstwhile mayor of the municipality of Datu Unsay, Maguindanao. The criminal minds of these “trinity” of ruthless murderers are typical of warlords as found anywhere in the Philippines and in other less-civilized societies of the world. In other words, it is inherent among warlords to be cold-blood murderers contemptuous of the legal and the moral.
Politicians of the same warlord streak whether they are in Luzon, the Visayas or Mindanao are generally perceived and expected to act like the Ampatuans when their political domination and monopolization are gravely challenged by emerging “New Turks”. In fact, by a mere exercise of one’s sociological imagination, it could be said that since time immemorial, warlords anywhere in the Philippines “naturally” eliminate by “liquidation” anyone who’d cross their paths, i.e., challenge their seemingly perpetual dominion and permanent supremacy. In the history of the Philippines, many have opined that the most vicious warlord with the ruthlessness of a cold-blooded murderer was Ferdinand Marcos who ordered the summary executions and forced disappearances of hundreds of his adversaries specifically in the ranks of peasant, labor and student activists within a period of more or less 20 years, i.e., prior to the declaration of and during the Martial Law era. But I beg to disagree, because what Marcos did within 20 years has been surpassed by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in less than 10 years. In other words, Arroyo is miles and miles worse than Marcos.
The Maguindanao Massacre appears to be so heinous and hence exceedingly controversial to grab the front pages of both Philippine and world dailies for days and weeks because in just one sweep of bullet hails from high-powered automatic weapons 57 defenseless and innocent civilians lost their precious lives. The masterminds and lead perpetrators of course were the Ampatuan “trinity”. But the issue is from what “supreme power” did the Ampatuans draw their satanic will? One very glaring reality is the fact that the Ampatuans are leading minions of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. They had the guts to commit a brutal crime because they knew that Gloria Arroyo would provide them with all the unassailable protections available within the clout of her power. Why did they have that notion? It is because they knew from the innermost sanctum of their zealously guarded chamber of secrets that Gloria could never—even in her dream—simply ignore them and drop them like hot potatoes because they and Gloria and their other blind followers knew that Gloria overwhelmingly won in Maguindanao and the rest of the ARMM during the last presidential elections courtesy of the iron hands of the Ampatuan warlords. This is basically the reason why right after the massacre became known in Malacanang, Gloria did not order an immediate arrest of the Ampatuans. Other steps were rather done to shield the Ampatuans. But because of popular local and international pressures, Gloria was forced—against her will—to arrest and incarcerate the Ampatuans. In retrospect, we could almost accurately say that the power of the Ampatuans exercised to the point of committing a terrible heinous crime was actually directly drawn from the more “omnipotence” of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.