Posts Tagged ‘Ampatuan’

As a former political council member of Akbayan and a governance consultant of various governance and development centers operating in Mindanao, I was privileged to work with the late Alex Tomawis –who was then the Mayor of the Municipality of Barira in Maguindanao – for the democratization of the local governance in three Maguindanao municipalities comprising the Iranun Development Council (IDC), the municipalities of Barira, Buldon and Matanog.

I was with Alex Tomawis when he started to reinvent the system of local governance in that portion of Maguindanao which served for many decades as a host to Camp Abubakar, once the main fortress of the Moro armed struggle under the MILF. His bold attempt at democratization of local governance in the area was considered as a radical democratic breakthrough in a province embroidered in the dictatorship of local tyrants, crippled by fear and poverty, and soaked in the blood of the hapless and the innocent.

In the next issue, I will put into details why the untimely passing of Alex Tomawis also spells death to the processes of democratization in Maguindanao. As a personal witness to his democratic governance experiment, I vow not to leave the issue of the death of Alex Tomawis until I see the protective and coercive apparatus of the state strongly moving in search for his justice, for the justice of his family and for the justice of his people who had found hope in him.

Meantime, I will pave the way for the portion of the article posted by Tom Villarin, an Akbayan nominee, in the Akbayan forum. This article details, among others, the circumstances surrounding the death of Alex Tomawis and gives us certain perspective as to the possible motives for his assassination.

Here is the portion of Tom Villarin’s article:

”Alexander Tomawis, 38, Barira, Maguindanao vice-mayor and Akbayan supporter since 2001 was shot dead around 10AM Sunday morning, November 29, 2010 after leaving his apartment house in Bajada, Davao city by two teenage gunmen after allegedly asking him to sign some documents. The gunmen escaped on motorcycles. He was rushed to the Davao Doctors Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.  Mayor Alex Tomawis is not known to walk around with dozens of armed bodyguards unlike other Maguindanao politicians.

“A few hours before his death, we met in a coffee shop to discuss the cases he filed against Col Ernesto R. Aradanas (batch ’79), commander of the 603rd Brigade based in Barira in the office of the Ombudsman, provincial prosecutor and the Comelec. During the recent barangay elections, the two had a heated argument as the military was intervening in the local elections. Cases of illegal detention and election offenses under the Omnibus Election Code was filed by him against Col. Ernesto R. Aradanas last November 5, 2010. Mayor Tomawis was in Davao to file with the Ombudsman last  November 26 cases of grave misconduct and grave abuse of authority versus Col. Aradanas, Major Mahainien Sangki, and 1st Lt. Manago Macalintangui, all officers from the 603rd Brigade.

“Mayor Alex is a good friend who never failed to support Akbayan.  While many will disagree with the ways he ran his municipality, he was an “action man” who brought back to life Barira (command and control HQ of the MILF) after the 2000 all-out war by Estrada.  He’s also the mayor instrumental in creating the Iranun Development Council, an inter-LGU alliance composed of Buldon, Barira and Matanog. His ambitious ways of making the ethnic group of Iranons become a potent political block in Maguindanao created many enemies against him.  His municipality became a recipient of some P380-M worth of development projects in 2001-2004 and partnered with the NAPC, CIDSS-KALAHI and other national government agencies as well as Gawad-Kalinga which constructed some 500 core houses in Tugaig, Barira. During my NAPC stint as NGO sectoral council member, I asked him to be resource speaker in ASEAN-NAPC forums in Jakarta and Singapore which he did well.

“While perceived to be close to Andal Ampatuan Sr., Mayor Alex had to resort to such an alliance with the Ampatuans to have leverage against the other political warlords in his area.  It is well known that Mayor Tocao Mastura of Sultan Kudarat municipality is a political nemesis of his. Mayor Mastura ran unsuccessfully as governor of the defunct Shariff Kabunsuan province in 2007.  Tomawis allied with the Sinsuats then. After the Maguindanao massacre, Mayor Alex distanced himself from the Ampatuans and organized nine municipal mayoral slate under Aksyon Demokratiko that delivered the votes for President Noy Aquino and Mar Roxas. He already has plans for 2013 as he has consolidated his political base consisting of Buldon (Mayor Fatima Tomawis, his wife), Matanog (Mayor Nasser Imam, a close ally who was also ambushed in the past but survived), Barira (his mother is the mayor), Parang (Mayor Ibrahim Ibay, a very close ally), Datu Blah Sinsuat (Mayor Toto Sinsuat, his brother-in-law married to his sister), South Upi, and Northern Kabuntalan.  He reportedly had several talks with Gov. Toto Mangudadatu of Maguindanao province before his death.”

We join Akbayan, and the rest, in calling the government of P-Noy to leave no stone unturned in its drive to put into the gallows the brains behind the assassination of Alex Tomawis.