COTABATO CITY—The gubernatorial race in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is officially a three-cornered fight.
On Friday, after the community prayer, acting Gov. Mujiv Hataman filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) in the regional office of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) here.
The two other contenders are former Sultan Kudarat governor and representative Pakung Mangudadatu and Moro leader Nur Misuari. Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan said he decided not to run in the ARMM gubernatorial race after all.
Hataman said he decided to run after weighing the effects of “word of honor” transgressed.
When he was appointed ARMM officer in charge, Hataman declared he had no intention of seeking election in 2013. “But the President and the people were persistent that I run for governor to continue the reforms that all of us have started,” he declared.
Hataman said even after getting endorsements, he still had second thoughts about running because he did not know how to tell his family. “The hard part was convincing my wife and children whom I promised to fully attend to after my term as appointed ARMM officer in charge shall have ended in June 2013,” Hataman said.
Mangudadatu, 66, filed his COC on Wednesday.
Hataman said he has high respects for Mangudadatu, an erstwhile colleague at the House of Representatives.
“In fact, I’m willing to talk to him one of these days and, perhaps, share our visions and good political platforms that our constituents would benefit whoever wins,” he said.
Not to be outdone is Misuari, who on Thursday filed his COC for the ARMM gubernatorial race.
Misuari, 70, who was the ARMM governor from 1996-2002, filed his COC as an independent candidate at the satellite office of the Comelec-ARMM in Zamboanga City about 4 p.m. with his running mate, Arabic teacher Abdulaziz Mangandaki Amenoden, 44, of Lanao del Sur.
Misuari and Amenoden were the first candidates to file their COCs at the said office, according to Marybeth Sy, Comelec-ARMM satellite office administrator.
Misuari, born Nurallaji Misuari in Jolo, Sulu, in 1942, chairs a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which fought the Marcos regime.
In 1996, the MNLF signed a peace agreement with the government and Misuari became ARMM governor.
While in his last years as ARMM governor, Misuari led another MNLF uprising that led to the deaths of dozens of people here and in Sulu.
In 2007, he was finally arrested by Malaysian authorities at the behest of Malacañang and was charged with terrorism upon his return to the country.
He was put under house arrest by the Arroyo administration but was later released from jail after posting P100,000 in bail.
During his term as governor, Misuari was criticized for reported anomalies in various ARMM offices, including the Department of Public Works and Highways.
He told the Inquirer that these were dead issues. “It was a product of their conspiracy (involving different countries),” he said.
Asked what prompted him to run anew, Misuari said he was following the “dictates of the situation today,” citing worsening poverty, peace and order, health, education problems and the lack of economic opportunities for the Moro people.
He said he was still fit to govern despite his age. “I am physically and mentally strong. I am as young as ever. I am athletic; I am used to self-defense, long-distance swimming, running and climbing,” the former university professor said. Charlie Señase and Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao