Aquino wants to reassess LP candidates

November 26, 2012 11:27 pm 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Nov. 26 — President Benigno Aquino III has ordered a reassessment allowing members of the Ampatuan clan to run under the administration political party in next year's elections, a senior Cabinet official said Monday.

"As a matter of policy and recognizing that our local leaders are in the best position to know the situation on the local level, then, as a policy we gave the prerogative of choosing who our candidates should be on the local level — let’s say municipal mayors, municipal councilors, provincial board members, barangay captains — to the local candidates or official candidates of the party," Budget Secretary and LP stalwart Florencio Abad told a press briefing.

Reports said 71 members of the Ampatuan clan, including nine under the LP, were issued certificates of nomination and acceptance (CONA), and will join next year's mid-term polls.

Abad said it was Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu who was given the prerogative to choose his candidates in the province.

Abad said, when Mangudadatu was asked how come there are those candidates belonging to the Ampatuan clan, the latter replied: "Well, not all Ampatuans are like the Ampatuans who are being tried now for what happened with the massacre of journalists and those other people of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat."

Former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. and his son, former Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. were accused of masterminding the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre of Mangudadatu's wife and female relatives including 32 media practitioners.

Abad believes Mangudadatu's decision of approving the CONAs for some members of the Ampatuan clan was made "with due consideration to the memory of his wife and loved ones."

Despite that, he said President Aquino has tasked LP secretary-general and Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, and himself to look into the CONAs issued to the Ampatuans "and see whether, in fact, those designations should be upheld."

Abad said they were tasked "to find out whether in fact that is true to establish the facts. Then, secondly, to understand why of all people Gov. Toto Mangudadatu would choose candidates of said family name. And, third, whether in fact that reason is something that is consistent with our party principles. And then, fourth, to make that recommendation to the President."

"We can see the fact that he (Mangudadatu) is a victim himself. So I think human nature dictates that — why would he do something that has brought such tragedy to himself and to his family? So we presume that he is doing this with due consideration of the memory of his wife and his loved ones," he said.

Sen. Franklin Drilon earlier said the party "should revoke whatever certificates of nomination and acceptance that may have been issued to" the members of the Ampatuan clan.

"I will not agree that they should run under our party,” he said.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said it would be up to Drilon to decide whether or not the LP would revoke the CONA of the Ampatuans.

"We leave it with them because they are the political party. Sen. Drilon is one of the officials, so definitely they will be in a position to decide," he said.

Lacierda said the Palace sees no problem on having people with surnames or middle names of Ampatuan join the LP.

He said that during his discussion with Mangudadatu, the Maguindanao governor assured that the nine Ampatuan candidates did not share the politics of the Ampatuan patriarch.

"Sinabi na nga po ni Gov. Mangudadatu na para sa kanya itong mga tatakbo, at least doon sa mga sumali sa LP, hindi nila sinasang-ayunan ang pulitika ng matandang Andal Ampatuan," he said. (PNA)

HBC/LGI

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