MILF party wins Cotabato City but loses big in Maguindanao | Inquirer News
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FIRST ELECTORAL BATTLE

MILF party wins Cotabato City but loses big in Maguindanao

/ 05:00 AM May 13, 2022

TACURONG CITY — While Cotabato City, the seat of government of the Bangsamoro region, will soon be under the political grip of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) through its electoral arm, United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP), it lost big in its traditional bailiwick of Maguindanao province.

Results of the May 9 elections in Cotabato City favored UBJP candidates with its mayoral bet, Bruce Matabalao, a former city councilor, upsetting the reelection bid of Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi (Nationalist People’s Coalition), the city’s first and only female elected mayor.

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Matabalao garnered 29,818 votes against Guiani-Sayadi’s 22,939.

Matabalao’s running mate, Councilor Butch Abu, son of the late MILF vice chair for political affairs Ghazali Jaafar, also defeated reelectionist Vice Mayor Graham Nazer Dumama, his closest rival for the post.

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Seven of 10 city council seats were also bagged by UBJP candidates.

Critic

“Observe magnanimity in victory—that is Islam,” Abdulraof Macacua, UBJP secretary general, said.Guiani-Sayadi, a lawyer, is a vocal critic of the MILF, campaigning hard against the inclusion of Cotabato City in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao during the plebiscite to ratify its Charter in January 2019.

However, at least 36,682 voters favored the ratification of Republic Act No. 11054, or the Bangsamoro Organic Law, while 24,994 rejected it.

Naguib Sinarimbo, UBJP deputy secretary general, said that with the overwhelming win of UBJP candidates in Cotabato City, he expected seamless cooperation between city and regional leaders.

“Rest assured that we will do our best to improve the lives of the people in the city,” Sinarimbo, also the Bangsamoro’s interior minister, said.

On behalf of Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim, MILF chair and UBJP president, Sinarimbo expressed the party’s gratitude to their supporters in Cotabato City.

Defeat

But while UBJP rejoiced in Cotabato City, it was a disaster for the party in Maguindanao, an MILF stronghold, after its candidates for major positions lost.

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Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu, UBJP’s gubernatorial bet, failed to unseat reelectionist Gov. Bai Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu.

“For the past 27 years, I have unselfishly pushed for transformative leadership in Maguindanao. I persevered in putting emphasis on ensuring peace and order, the marginalized voices are heard and the welfare of the Bangsamoro people is taken care of. There [is so much] work to be done and yet by a twist of fate, maybe Allah intervened so I can take a step back to reflect on the bigger tasks He has for me,” said Esmael, who served as governor from 2010 to 2019.

Sangki-Mangudadatu, who ran under Nacionalista Party (NP), is the wife of Sultan Kudarat Gov. Suharto Mangudadatu, an estranged cousin of Esmael.

Suharto did not seek reelection. His son, Datu Pax Ali, ran and won as governor against former beauty queen Sharifa Akeel, Esmael’s wife.

Sangki-Mangudadatu’s running mate, Bai Annie Sinsuat, defeated UBJP candidate Bai Sandra Sema, former Maguindanao first district representative and wife of Moro National Liberation Front Chair Muslimin Sema.

NP’s bets for the first and second congressional districts—Bangsamoro Member of Parliament Dimple Mastura and Tong Paglas, incumbent vice mayor of Datu Paglas town—also won.

Out of 36 towns in Maguindanao, 22 NP mayoral bets won, nine from UBJP and the rest belong to other political parties.

UBJP was organized in 2014. The May 9 elections was its first foray into electoral politics.

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TAGS: Cotabato, Elections, Maguindanao, MILF
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