Aquino aunt joins fray in ARMM polls
COTABATO CITY, Philippines—A relative of President Benigno Aquino III is joining the fray in the yet uncertain elections for officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Socialite Margarita “Tingting” Delos Reyes-Cojuangco, aunt-in-law of the President, said she was making herself available for candidacy in the ARMM elections scheduled in August, but which Malacañang is trying to postpone.
“Old friends and legions of their supporters are insisting that I run if elections were held in August,” said Cojuangco.
“I’m not really pushing myself into the ARMM political picture, but the people are,” she said.
In an interview with a local radio station here on Monday, Cojuangco said she is being groomed to be the running mate of Pax Mangudadatu, a veteran politician from Maguindanao, who is being tagged as candidate for governor.
Mangudadatu’s political career has spanned 20 years, including stints as Sultan Kudarat governor and the province’s representative in the House.
Cojuangco said the people of Maguindanao and the rest of ARMM are close to her heart, a relationship that she said began during the reign of the Mr. Aquino’s mother, the late President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino.
On the strong possibility that the question of residency might be raised against her, Cojuangco quickly pointed to a house that she owns in Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao just a few blocks from the Awang airport.
She said she had transferred her voter’s registration papers from Tarlac to Maguindanao in preparation for the coming regional elections.
“I’m advocating for elections and the people’s wish that I run is up to them,” said Cojuangco, defending her first direct participation in ARMM politics as respectful of Muslim capability for self-governance.
“I’m not saying that Muslims cannot run it effectively,” said Cojuangco.
“They can by themselves but they want a non-Muslim tandem for Mangudadatu, a Christian with a heart for Muslim Mindanao,” said Cojuangco, who claimed that 20 percent of ARMM’s inhabitants are lumad and Christians.
She vowed to work for peace and development in ARMM, especially in strengthening autonomy. She said she would work for more access to education, health and socioeconomic opportunities for the region’s nearly three million inhabitants.
So far, only Cojuangco’s name surfaced as probable vice gubernatorial candidate in the Aug. 8 elections as the filing of certificates of candidacy at the Commission on Elections starts next week.
Those earlier mentioned as possible candidates for governors include acting Gov. Ansaruddin Adiong, former Rep. Didagen Dilangalen, Sultan Kudarat Mayor Tocao Mastura and former party-list Rep. Mujib Hataman of Basilan.