Ampatuan clan ‘violent,’ Arroyo execs warned rival

MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATE 6) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s officials had repeatedly warned Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu against challenging the political bid of the Ampatuans because they were a “violent people,” the local executive himself told the court Wednesday.

Mangudadatu said that following his decision to run against Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. for the governorship of Maguindanao, he was approached by Secretary Gabriel Claudio, presidential adviser for political affairs, then defense secretary Gilbert Teodoro, and former congressman Prospero Pichay on separate occasions.

Mangudadatu, who as of posting time is testifying at the resumption of the trial against Ampatuan Jr., said that Pichay called him last November 9 to ask if he was sure about running against Ampatuan Jr.

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