TO say that Malacañang knows the tendency of the Ampatuan clan to commit atrocities, euphemistically described as its “violent nature,” is to reiterate what has been talked about before. But having Esmael Mangudadatu describe how Malacañang execs expressed it resurrects the anger felt in the aftermath of the Maguindanao massacre.

Presidential aspirant Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro’s latest political ad shows him piloting the plane “Sulong Gibo” and asking voters to fly with him. He mentioned two experiences that qualify him to pilot the plane of the state: his having been secretary of national defense and his stint in the House of Representatives.

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But Mangudadatu, who lost his wife, two sisters and an aunt in the massacre, put a stain on Teodoro’s stint as defense chief.

Mangudadatu, in a court testimony, recalled a meeting called by Teodoro in a coffee shop in Manila on Oct. 10, 2009 to mediate the rift between his clan and the Ampatuans on who should run for Maguindanao governor.

An Inquirer report quoted Mangudadatu as having recounted what Teodoro said to him in Tagalog at that time. “Don’t (run). I care for you a lot Toto. You know those people are prone to violence.” “Toto” is Esmael’s nickname. He had announced at that time his plan to run for governor against massacre suspect Andal Ampatuan Jr.

Teodoro was, of course, not the only official of the Arroyo administration who “knew” about the Ampatuans’ violent tendencies and who warned Mangudadatu about it. Incidentally, this does not mean the Mangudadatus are immaculate. It’s possible the clan is itself prone to violence, too. But that is beside the point for now.

What Mangudadatu succeeded in depicting in his testimony is a Malacañang that could have prevented violent incidents like the massacre from happening in Maguindanao had it not been tolerant of warlordism there. More than that, the discovery of caches of government firearms in the hands of the Ampatuans showed that officials even abetted it.

Mangudadatu’s testimony is damning for Teodoro because it exposed what kind of a defense secretary he was and, by extension, what kind of a president he would become, if ever.

No matter how much he portrays himself to have “galing at talino,” that won’t matter in the end considering how he tolerated warlords for political expediency.

Add to that Teodoro’s leading role in the attempt to impeach then Supreme Court chief justice Hilario Davide Jr., a Cebuano, for dubious reasons---Gibo’s only “shining” moment in a lackluster stint as congressman. Former Ferdinand Marcos crony Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, Teodoro’s uncle, was believed to have been behind that move.


One should give it to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Smartmatic-TIM for its continuing effort to raise the level of preparedness of all concerned sectors to the first automated polls in the country. The other day, Comelec held a field testing on the transmission of poll results from the barangay to the higher-level board of canvassers.

Transmission is only one of the aspects that need special attention from the poll body. Protecting the integrity of the count and ensuring that the correct counts are transmitted to the city, town, provincial and national board of canvassers is the more vital aspect. Even the holding of mock polls next month is no assurance that cheaters will no longer find a way to tamper with poll results in May.

( my blog: