COTABATO CITY, Maguindanao: The fault of a brother is not the fault of another brother, nor is a fault of one family member the fault of the entire family. This may be the case of Mayor Zamzamin “Zam” Ampatuan of Radjah Buayan who is seeking his second term during the synchronized automated national, local and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) elections on May 9, 2016.
Zam Ampatuan does not deny his ties with the Ampatuan clan of Maguindanao who became infamous because of the Maguindanao Massacre in 2009 that left 58 people dead including 34 media practitioners.
However, Zam Ampatuan has been dubbed by many as among the “good Ampatuans.”
A peace advocate, he was one of the government officials together with then Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Jesus “Jess” Dureza who fetched Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan, Jr., the prime suspect in the Maguindanao massacre, in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao when the latter surrendered to the authorities a few days after the massacre.
Zam Ampatuan is a licensed civil engineer and was a former undersecretary and executive director of the defunct Office on Muslim Affairs. He then became a lead convenor of the National Anti Poverty Commission (NAPC) and Department of Energy undersecretary.
He was supposed to end his government career and settle in his native town of Radjan Buayan, one of the 36 localities in Maguindanao, to become a farmer. However, he tried his luck during the barangay (village) elections and won as barangay chairman.
After serving his term as barangay chairman, he told The Manila Times in an interview that he was all set to run as representative of the 2nd Congressional District of Maguindanao after consultations were made with the Ampatuan clan as well as his supporters during the 2013 elections.
Seeking a new mandate
Instead, he settled to run for mayor in his hometown of Radjah Buayan. “One day before filing of candidacy, bigla nagiging malinaw at mas comfortable ay tatakbo ako bilang mayor ng [it suddenly became clear to me that it was more comfortable for me to run for mayor of]
Radjah Buayan,” Ampatuan said.
“It seems my fate is in someone else’s hand, Allah,” he added
On October 13, he filed his Certificate of Candidacy for his re-election as mayor of Radjah Buayan as the standard bearer of PDP-Laban party.
Zam Ampatuan’s candidacy is being challenged by three others: Orly Utto; Jaiton Camsa; Len-Len Salinogen; and Hamdan Abdullah.
He emphasized that his success for the past two years and a half in turning around his town from a laid back underdeveloped locality to an emerging core area for agricultural production encouraged him to seek a renewed mandate.
Radjah Buayan under Zam Ampatuan was awarded Certificate of Recognition by the Department of Interior and Local Government for having achieved effective governance in peace and order. The town was also adopted by the ABS-CBN Foundation as its pilot area for modeling its poverty alleviation livelihood program.