All eyes were on Esmael “Toto” Gaguil Mangudadatu in late 2009. His family and supporters were the victims in the Maguindanao massacre, which is also known as the Ampatuan massacre.
Mangudadatu was the mayor of Buluan, Maguindanao, Philippines from 2003 to 2007 and the town’s vice mayor from 2007 to 2010. On November 23, 2009, several journalists accompanied his family members, aides, lawyers and supporters to file his candidacy for the 2010 national elections.
In Ampatuan, Maguindanao, the journalists along with those who were supposed to file Mangudadatu’s candidacy were kidnapped and murdered on November 23, 2009. There was a total of 58 victims including his wife Genalyn “Gigi” Tiamson-Mangudadatu, his sisters Eden Mangudadatu, Farida Mangudadatu and Farina Mangudadatu and their aunt Manguba Mangudadatu.
Running for the gubernatorial position for Maguindanao, Toto was challenging then Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., son of then incumbent Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., who died on July 12, 2015. Andal Jr. and his brother Zaldy Ampatuan were convicted of 57 counts of murder and sentenced to reclusion perpetua without parole on December 19, 2019.
Toto was elected as the governor of Maguindanao in 2010 and as the representative of the second district of the province in 2019. Here are 13 more facts about him:
- Born in Maguindanao, he is exactly 8 years older than Andal Jr.
- He is the son of Pua Mangudadatu, the president of a group of influential politicians in Maguindanao called the Magnificent 7.
- He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Mindanao in Davao City. He was already a father when he was attending the university. To provide for this family, he would get carp from his mother and sell it inside the campus.
- He is the nephew of Sultan Kudarat politician Pakung “Pax” Mangudadatu, the father of Suharto “Teng” Mangudadatu.
- He is the godson of former Maguindanao governor Zacaria Candao, who is a lawyer. He did not want to follow the footsteps of his family members who pursued a career in politics but it was his godfather who changed his mind.
- He met Gigi when they were both medical students in Davao City, Philippines. They got married on November 11, 1991.
- He and Gigi have eight children. They also had one child who died of dengue. Their eldest child King Jhazzer Mangudadatu was born in 1990. Their fourth child Fawzia Mangudadatu and eighth child Datu Powa Mangudadatu II, were born in 2006 and in 2009, respectively.
- In 2010, he started a relationship with actress Ynez Veneracion. In 2012, she gave birth to their daughter Princess Keilah Del Rosario.
- From Lakas–Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas Kampi CMD), he moved to Liberal Party in 2011 and to Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) in 2016.
- In 2019, she married to Mylene “Mai” Aguilar Maligaya Mangudadatu, a former beauty queen and politician from Muntinlupa, Metro Manila, Philippines.
- On February 27, 2020, he filed an act dividing Maguindanao into two provinces namely Northern Maguindanao and Southern Maguindanao.
- On June 2, 2020, he filed an act establishing a COVID-19 Unemployment Reduction Economic Stimulus (CURES) fund and instituting mechanisms for the implementation thereof and appropriating funds therefore. When the Philippines’ House of Representatives passed the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 or House Bill 6875, 173 voted yes, 31 voted no and 29 abstained. He was one of the eight congressmen from Mindanao who voted no.
- On August 25, 2021, he and Miss Asia Pacific International 2018 Sharifa Akeel will get married at the Alnor Convention Center in Cotabato City, Philippines.