Peaceful polls seen in ARMMPhilippine Daily Inquirer
COTABATO CITY—With the way matches are shaping up for next year’s midterm polls, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) may be leaving behind a history of election-related violence that peaked in 2009 with the massacre of 58 people in Maguindanao.
Gov. Esmael Toto Mangudadatu, whose wife and other relatives were among those killed in the massacre, will be challenged by Mayor Tocao Mastura of Sultan Kudarat town in what many believe could be Maguindanao’s first ever bloodless balloting.
“The campaign format will be above board, no mudslinging, no hitting below the belt and anchored on Islamic beliefs that uttering bad words against another is forbidden,” Mastura said.
Mastura used to be the provincial chair of the Liberal Party (LP), but the “equity of the incumbent” policy forced him to run under the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban). Mangudadatu, the LP standard-bearer, will seek a second term.
“Despite this, I still believe and pursue the daang matuwid (righteous road) campaign of President Benigno Aquino III,” Mastura said.
Both candidates have expressed willingness to sign a peace covenant.
In Basilan, acting Gov. Mujiv Hataman of ARMM said he had already cleared the path to political reconciliation by bringing two erstwhile rival families—the Akbars and the Hatamans—to run in one slate. He described the development as the “first in the history of Basilan.”
Last week, Basilan Gov. Jum Akbar was officially proclaimed a reelectionist candidate, while Hataman’s elder brother, Rep. Jim Hataman, will seek another term instead of going against Akbar.
Vice Gov. Al Rasheed Sakalahul’s eldest son, Kim, will run for his father’s post.
“Aside from preventing election-related violence, this election will be less expensive. Elected officials, as they are perceived to be, will not be forced to engage in corrupt practices once they assume office because they would not be thinking about how much they have spent in the campaign,” Hataman said.
Most of the candidates are running unopposed.
Hataman said Sulu Gov. Anbusakur Tan was also talking with candidates to run in one ticket. Tan himself gave up his plan to run for ARMM governor against Hataman, who was chosen by President Aquino as the administration candidate, according to sources.
In North Cotabato, Rep. Jesus Sacdalan reportedly backed out from his plan to challenge Gov. Lala Taliño-Mendoza in her reelection bid and would instead seek another term. Mendoza’s top rival, former Gov. Manny Piñol, was reportedly prodded by Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, LP president, to run for representative of the third district.
With this arrangement, Mendoza agreed that there would be “less tension” in the electoral races.
Second District Rep. Nancy Catamco is seeking reelection and will be challenged by Vice Gov. Gregorio Ipong and former Rep. Bernardo Piñol, Jr. Edwin O. Fernandez, Julie S. Alipala and Williamor Magbanua, Inquirer Mindanao