Editha Tiamzon

Victims’ kin ask Remulla: Explain visit to Ampatuan patriarch

Victims’ kin ask Remulla: Explain visit to Ampatuan patriarch
By Miko L. Morelos
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Two widows of media workers who were among the 57 people killed in Maguindanao last year yesterday wondered why Nacionalista Party senatorial candidate Gilbert Remulla had to see Andal Ampatuan Sr., a principal suspect in the massacre, about his (Remulla’s) security in a jailhouse visit in Davao City early this month.

“Is [Remulla] that weak that he had to ask for security from someone in jail?” asked Myrna Reblando, widow of Manila Bulletin correspondent Bong Reblando, in Filipino.

“Why was he asking for security from [Ampatuan]? Why didn’t he ask it from the military or the police,” said Editha Tiamzon, widow of UNTV driver Daniel Tiamzon.

Ampatuan is the patriarch of the clan that until the massacre, controlled Maguindanao and other parts of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Remulla admitted visiting Ampatuan, saying that he did so to discuss his security concerns. “If you have children, you would understand,” was all he would cryptically tell reporters.

The widows speculated the visit was political with the elections drawing near.

The Ampatuans were closely identified with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo whom they were suspected of fraudulently helping win the 2004 elections in their territory.

“I think [the visit was] a negotiation because the elections are near and [the Ampatuans] have a wide connection in the area,” Reblando said.

“The Ampatuans are good in doing dirty tricks,” Tiamzon said. With a report from Emil Sarmiento