Mangudadatu inaugurates school named after ‘Maguindanao massacre’ plotter
John Unson ( - October 9, 2015 - 12:14am

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu on Thursday willingly had himself photographed with pupils in a school named after the main plotter of the Nov. 23, 2009 “Maguindanao massacre” that left 58 people dead, one of them his spouse.

The governor and Major Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID) were at Datu Unsay Central Elementary School in Datu Unsay town to inaugurate a newly-rehabilitated school building which bandits burned down two years ago.

Datu Unsay is the nickname of Andal Ampatuan Jr., who was former mayor of the same municipality.

Ampatuan Jr. was tagged as one of the masterminds in the now infamous Maguindanao massacre incident, the country’s worst election-related violence ever.

His patriarch, Andal Ampatuan Sr., most known as Datu Andal, former governor of the province, died of liver cancer more than three months ago while in detention for his involvement in the massacre.

The repair of the four-classroom building in Datu Unsay was initiated by the Army’s 6th Civil Military Operations Battalion and the 34th Infantry Battalion (IB) led by Lt. Cols. Noman Alcovindas and Edgar Delos Reyes, respectively.

The project was funded by the office of Mangudadatu through the provincial government’s emergency and disaster response group under Lynette Estandarte, who is chief budget officer of the province.

Mangudadatu was accompanied to the Datu Unsay project site by his siblings, Mayor Freddie of Mangudadatu town and Assemblyman Khadafeh, a member of the Regional Legislative Assembly in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“Every time I would hear, or read about the name of one of the suspects in the Maguindanao massacre as if my heart is being torn into pieces but I have no way but engage in this project still because it will benefit school children from families that needs access to quality education, children we want to set free from the bondage of illiteracy,” Mangudadatu said.

Mangudadatu said he willingly acceded to requests by school children for a photo session near an overhead signage indicating the name of their school which reminds him of the Maguindanao massacre, where he lost his wife, Genalyn, and several relatives.

At least 32 of the 58 people that perished in the incident were journalists.

The victims were on their way to the old provincial capitol in Shariff Aguak, to file on Mangudadatu’s behalf his certificate of candidacy for Maguindanao governor during the 2010 elections. Members of the Ampatuan private militia, led by Ampatuan Jr., intercepted their convoy and herded into a nearby hill where they were killed one after another.

Ampatuan Jr. was to aspire for Maguindanao’s gubernatorial post during the 2010 local polls, an ambition Mangudadatu, then vice mayor of Buluan, planned to contest.

Ampatuan Jr. and several members of his family were arrested and subsequently detained in connection with the massacre case, still being litigated in a Quezon City court.

Also present in the event at the Datu Unsay school campus were Mangudadatu’s son, Jhazzer, who is vice mayor of Buluan town and Maguindanao’s appointed deputy governor, Ramil Dilangalen.

The same group of officials opened on Thursday afternoon to Moro students a new two-classroom Islamic school building constructed in Barangay Kulasi in Gen. S.K. Pendatun town by members of the Army’s 33rd IB led by Lt. Col. Ricky Bunayog and his superior, Col. Melquiades Feliciano of the 601st Brigade.

Carpenters and masons from the 33rd IB built the two classroom Islamic school building amid the heavy presence of Moro rebels in the surroundings.

Mangudadatu paid for all the materials used in the project, including cement and aggregates supplied by Estandarte’s office.

Mangudadatu awarded Bunayog with a special citation plaque, in the presence of Barangay Kulasi residents, for his role in the construction of the Islamic school building, an extension of a two-classroom structure which members of the 33rd IB constructed last year.

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