CAVITE, Philippines – There were 246 cadets who graduated from the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) on Thursday, March 26, but all eyes were on one graduate: Datu Andal Ampatuan, III, from the controversial political clan.
The young police lieutenant’s family name precedes him.
His namesakes – grandfather Andal Ampatuan, Sr. and uncle, Andal Ampatuan, Jr., are accused of being the brains behind the grisly 2009 Maguindanao massacre where 58 people were killed.
The Ampatuan patriarch was governor of Maguindanao when the killings happened while Andal Jr. was mayor of Datu Unsay town of the same province. The two Ampatuans are currently detained at a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) facility in Camp Bagong Diwa.
The young Ampatuan, now officially a Police Inspector of the Philippine National Police (PNP), is the clan’s first graduate from the academy.
His mother, 54-year-old Bai Rebecca Ampatuan Ampatuan, said it has always been his son’s dream to enter the PNPA.
“Pag-graduate niya ng high school, parangarap na niya talaga na maging PNPA cadet. Proud nga kami kasi may Ampatuan na naging graduate [ng PNPA]. Hindi namin ma-express kung ano ang feeling namin,” his mother said.
(He’s always dreamed of entering the PNPA, since he graduated from high school. We’re very proud because an Ampatuan is a graduate of the PNPA. No words can express how the clan feels right now.)
His mother admitted is was tough for the young man at first, since his family has been the focus of news reports since the 2009 massacre of 58 people, including 38 journalists.
“[Sinabi ko sa kanya] kayanin mo kung ano ang challenges na haharapin mo,” she said. (I told him to just face any challenges that come his way.)
Hopes for the youngest boy
Andal III is the 6th child from a brood of 9. He is also the youngest among the boys in the family.
In an interview with reporters, the police officer said he doesn’t mind where he will be assigned. Of the 246 graduates from the PNPA “Lakandula” Class of 2015, 225 are commissioned to the PNP, 11 to the Bureau of Fire Protection, and 10 to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
There will be no special treatment for the young police inspector, PNP officials said. Assignments for the Class of 2015 will depend on the PNP’s needs and strengths of the individual cadets.
They are required to serve in the PNP, the BJMP, or the BFP for a number of years before they can leave the service.
For his mother, the graduation of Datu Andal Ampatuan III means more than just a victory for the young man.
“Sana mabura na iyong masasamang istorya laban sa pamilya namin kasi nakikita naman ninyo kung ano ang anak natin,” the elated mother told reporters.
(We hope that the bad press about the family will go away now that you’ve seen what kind of person our son is.)
The challenges that await the young Ampatuan are plenty.
Just recently, his family once again came into the spotlight after at least 67 people, including 44 elite cops, were killed in a bungled operation in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao. Six of the 44 slain PNP Special Action Force (SAF) troopers were also graduates of the PNPA.
The young police inspector’s brother, Datu Benzar Ampatuan, is the incumbent mayor of the sleepy town. Datu Benzar, Bai Rebecca, and other members of the Ampatuan clan were all at Camp General Mariano Castañeda on Thursday to celebrate with the young police inspector.
The Mamasapano mayor was kept in the dark about the police operation, which saw the SAF troopers in day-long clashes with fighters from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), its breakaway group the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and private armed groups (PAGs).
The Armed Forces of the Philippines had earlier confirmed that the private army of Ampatuan Sr.'s was involved in the clash.
Bai Rebecca downplayed their family's link to the deadly clash in an interview with reporters. "Alam naman ng gobyerno, hindi kalaban ng gobyerno ang Ampatuan. Kaya lang nagkataon lang na may nangyari na hindi natin maiwasan," she said.
(The government knows that the Ampatuans are not their enemy. It was an incident that we could not avoid.)
The MILF were similarly unaware that it was SAF troopers who entered barangay Tukanalipao in Mamasapano town, according to their report on the clash. The MILF and the government in 2014 inked a peace deal that is hoped to lead to the creation of a new autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao.
It's a deal that has been endangered following the deadly clash.
The class' topnotcher, Dennis Yuson, Jr., said the death of the 44 SAF troopers should not scare them from the profession they've chosen.
"Malapit man sa peligro, ay hindi takot ang mangingibabaw sa amin kundi ang pag-aalab na magsilbi sa bayan. Ang trahedyang ito ay hindi hadlang sa hangaring makamit natin ang kapayapaan,” said Yuson.
(Our chosen profession may be dangerous but we are not dominated by fear but by the passion to serve the country. The Mamasapano tragedy should not stop us from our dreams of peace.) – Rappler.com