Leave trees alone, Maguindanao candidate tells poster team

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DATU PIANG, Maguindanao—Campaign posters are not as many for Annie Datumanong as other candidates, whose faces are all over, dotting interior roads and highways of Maguindanao’s second congressional district.

Datumanong, 43, daughter of outgoing Maguindanao Rep. Simeon Datumanong, told a Moro youth’s forum on the environment here that her coordinators were strictly under instructions not to post or nail on trees her tarpaulins and other propaganda materials.

“We care much, as we all should, for the environment,” she said.

If elected, Datumanong said, her first bill would deal with the mandatory inclusion of peace and environment learning modules into values and guidance subjects in elementary and high school curriculums.

Guiamel Alim, chair and executive director of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society Organizations, said Datumanong was exposed to peace activism through human rights and interfaith advocacies, having worked for both the Moro Human Rights Center and the Center for Muslim and Christian Understanding nongovernment organizations.

The race for representative in the second district is being contested by Datumanong; Ali Sangki, a former executive director of the Office on Muslim Affairs; Mayor Zajid Mangudadatu of Mangudadatu town and brother of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu; and Pendatun Pangadil, a professor.

A fifth candidate, Jumbo Matalam, has withdrawn.

A first-timer in politics, Datumanong is not spared from verbal attacks on bloc-time radio programs. For instance, one commentator said she was fresh from learning the start of Islamic prayers in Arabic—which means: “In the Name of Allah the Beneficent, the Merciful.”

She did not respond, though, but said that just like her father, she can read Arabic, “although not that much,” which she and her siblings learned at home from the late Aleem Iljas Ismael, who later became dean of the University of the Philippines’ Institute of Islamic Studies.—Nash B. Maulana

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