ZAMBOANGA CITY—Even before the Senate approved the postponement of elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Malacañang already has a man in mind as the region’s officer in charge—Anak Mindanao Party-list Rep. Mujiv Hataman.
On May 30, all five provincial governors in the ARMM were summoned to a meeting in Malacañang to discuss Hataman’s possible appointment. The Senate approved the postponement of the ARMM polls on June 6.
Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu said in the May 30 meeting, President Benigno Aquino “endorsed Hataman to us.”
Mangudadatu earlier wanted current ARMM OIC Ansarudin Adiong to remain in his post until the elections in 2013, but changed his mind after the meeting in Malacañang.
Present in that Malacañang meeting were Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, Lou Antonino of the Mindanao Development Authority, Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Ronald Llamas and presidential spokespersons Edwin Lacierda and Ricky Carandang.
Llamas is a close friend of Hataman’s and colleague in the social democratic movement. He was also reported to be the one who pushed for the postponement of the ARMM elections.
“We didn’t disagree seeing the potentials of Hataman and we agreed to support,” said Mangudadatu.
Mangudadatu said when the President asked the opinion of Basilan Gov. Jum Akbar, “she didn’t answer.”
“But she explained that she needs to inform first the families and relatives of her late husband (Basilan Rep. Wahab Akbar),” Mangudadatu said.
Hataman was one of the earlier suspects in the 2007 Batasan Pambansa bombing that killed Rep. Akbar. Hataman denied involvement in the bombing.
Yesterday, some Basilan local officials, in a letter to the President, a copy of which was sent to the Inquirer, expressed opposition to the possible appointment of Hataman.
Except for Akbar, all other governors in the ARMM said they would support Hataman.
“Mujiv (Hataman) is okay with us. Besides, we are around to guide him. We know that he can do it with our full support,” Mangudadatu said.
One was quiet
Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong told the Inquirer by phone that except for Basilan Gov. Jum Akbar “who went against Hataman’s appointment,” all the other governors support him as officer in charge of ARMM.
Adiong said if Mr. Aquino handpicked Hataman as ARMM OIC, then “we should support him (Hataman).”
Tawi-Tawi Gov. Sadikul Sahali said he has no choice but to accept the President’s choice.
“What is needed here is the support of the national government. Whatever support we get from the national government will surely reach the local level,” he said.
Sahali said he sees Hataman as a “good conduit” for requests for infrastructure and livelihood projects because “he gets the President’s support.”
Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan said he also “respects the President’s choice and decision.”
“And we support anybody the President picks, somebody that has his confidence and he sees that in Hataman,” he said. Julie S. Alipala with reports from Nash B. Maulana, Inquirer Mindanao