AMPATUAN, Philippines – A politician whose wife and relatives were among 57 people massacred in the southern Philippines in an apparent bid to stop him from running for governor filed his candidacy today for the election.
“Only death can stop me from running,” said Ismael Mangudadatu, escorted by soldiers, a police commander and a senior army general. He submitted his documents to the Elections Commission in the Maguindanao provincial capital of Shariff Aguak.
His caravan of more than 50 vehicles took the same road where his wife, two sisters, supporters and journalists were stopped and killed Monday and their bodies dumped in mass graves.
Along a highway, groups of people waved at the cars and raised their thumbs and clenched their fists in approval. But inside Shariff Aguak, the stronghold of the rival Ampatuan clan, the mood was different. There were no enthusiastic crowds with only a few pedestrians.
The main suspect in the slayings, Andal Ampatuan Jr., a scion of the clan that has ruled Maguindanao unopposed for years, turned himself in Thursday under threat of military attack against his family’s compound. He is expected to be charged in the slayings today. He maintained his innocence.