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PNoy orders probe on Ampatuans' inclusion in LP ticket


President Benigno Aquino III has ordered Liberal Party (LP) leaders to look into the reported inclusion of several Ampatuan clan members in the organization for the 2013 elections.   Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said Aquino gave the task to him, Energy Secretary Jun Abaya and Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas.   “So right now, the president has tasked Secretary Jun Abaya, Secretary Roxas and myself to look at this situation and see whether, in fact, those designations should be upheld,” Abad said Monday.   A senior LP member, Sen. Franklin Drilon, had earlier questioned the inclusion of at least nine candidates who have the surname Ampatuan under the LP ticket.   Three members of the Ampatuan clan, including patriarch Andal Ampatuan Sr., a former Maguindanao governor, are currently standing trial for the November 23, 2009 massacre of 58 people in a town named after them in Maguindanao province.   Abad said senior LP members have no hand in picking candidates at the local level, saying the responsibility usually falls on the elected local officials who are members of the party.   “As a matter of policy and recognizing that our local leaders are in the best position to know the situation on the local level, we gave the prerogative of choosing who our candidates should be,” Abad said. “That has been the policy that we have been adopting all through these years.”   In Maguindanao, Abad said it was Governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, who lost his wife and two sisters in the November 2009 massacre, who picked LP’s local candidates there.   He said Mangudadatu had confirmed to them the inclusion of several Ampatuan clan members in the LP ticket in the province.   “When we queried from him how come that there are those candidates with the said family names and his answer is: Well, not all Ampatuans are like the Ampatuans who are being tried now for what happened with the massacre of journalists and those other people of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat,” Abad said. — Patricia Denise Chiu/KBK, GMA News