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Aquino aunt files candidacy papers for ARMM vice governor

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III’s aunt, Margarita “Ting-Ting” Cojuangco filed, on Sunday afternoon, her certificate of candidacy for vice governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Cojuangco was accompanied by her husband Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, brother of President Aquino’s late mother, former president Corazon C. Aquino. Ting-Ting Cojuangco will be the running mate of former Sultan Kudarat Rep. Pax Mangudadatu.

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Lawyer Ray Sumalipao, ARMM election director, said so far, four candidates have been vying for the region’s top post.

On Saturday, former Lanao del Sur Rep. Pangalian Balindong filed his COC for ARMM governor.

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On the first day of the filing of candidacy certificates, the controversial former mayor of Indanan in Sulu, Alvarez Isnaji, who was implicated in, but later cleared in the 2008 kidnapping of ABS-CBN news anchor Ces Drilon and her crew in Sulu, filed his candidacy for governor.

Ibrahim Nemenio, a businessman from Kauran, Ampatuan, Maguindanao, also formalized his candidacy for ARMM governor.

Mrs. Cojuangco earlier announced her desire to serve ARMM, saying her friends from the region asked her to do so. She is a registered voter in Barangay Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, where she has a house.

Also expected to seek the ARMM’s top post is acting Regional Governor Ansaruddin Adiong who was elected as vice governor in 2008 and, by law of succession, assumed as acting governor after Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan was implicated in the Maguindanao massacre in 2009.

Monday (May 23) is the last day of filing of certificates of candidacy.

The Aquino administration, insisting that electoral reforms are needed in the ARMM, is moving for the postponement of the August polls to 2013, synchronizing it with the national elections.

On Saturday, three senators announced in a consultation in Marawi City that they would oppose the passing of the Senate bill that would postpone the ARMM elections.

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Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chairman of Senate local government committee, Sen. Miguel Zubiri and Sen. Francis Escudero separately expressed opposition to the proposed measure.

The three senators drew applause from thousands of Maranaos when they made public their stand on the issue.

Marcos is expected to submit his committee report before the Senate plenary on Monday.

While the Senate and the House have not yet decided with finality on the proposed measures, Sumalipao said the poll body’s preparations have shifted to high gear.

“We always presume that the election will push through, we do not want to be caught off guard,” Sumalipao said in a radio interview.

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