It’s official: ARMM head is governor
COTABATO CITY, Philippines—Mujiv Hataman can drop “officer in charge” and replace it with “governor” in his title beginning in June.
This after he was proclaimed the winner of the gubernatorial race in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) at 11 a.m. last Friday.
Hataman, an ally of President Aquino’s, received nearly 750,000 votes. He defeated Mangudadatu clan patriarch Pax Mangudadatu and Moro leader Nur Misuari.
Ray Sumalipao, regional elections chief and chairman of the ARMM board of canvassers, said Hataman’s proclamation was decided upon even if the votes from Basilan had yet to be canvassed.
He said the total number of votes from Basilan could not affect Hataman’s lead of almost 300,000 votes since the total number of voters in the island-province was only 136,383.
“Even with the Basilan poll results transmitted, with his huge marginal lead, Governor Hataman would still emerge the winner,” Sumalipao said.
Hataman was named officer in charge of the ARMM in 2011 after Congress suspended the regional elections and reset it to coincide with this year’s midterm polls.
Last year, President Aquino praised Hataman for the “reforms he instituted” as caretaker governor, including purging the regional education department’s payroll of “ghost teachers.”
An investigation found there were “ghost teachers teaching in ghost schools attended by ghost students” in the ARMM, which had bloated the regional government’s expenses for personnel.
Hataman also stumbled on other anomalies such as nonexistent projects and illegal disbursements by the past regional government.
Hataman, the former Anak Mindanao party-list representative, had repeatedly said he would not be seeking the regional governorship in the May 2013 elections.
He changed his mind, however, citing the prodding of government leaders, including Aquino, who told him he needed to continue what he had started.
While Hataman has been proclaimed, Sumalipao said his opponents were expected to file protests.
“It is their democratic right to do that,” he said.—Charlie Señase, Edwin Fernandez and Jeoffrey Maitem, Inquirer Mindanao
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