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CSOs, Muslim groups endorse own bets in ARMM race; but President picks own choice 

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President Benigno Aquino in Zamboanga City. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

COTABATO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 30, 2012) – Civil society and religious groups have appealed to President Benigno Aquino to choose Mujiv Hataman, the acting governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, as the government’s official candidate for the gubernatorial race in the May 2013 elections in the ARMM.

“We, the undersigned, representing the Ulama (religious leaders), the youth sector, the women sector, and other Civil Society Organizations in Mindanao have come together to convey to our President His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III our firm commitment to continuously support the reform in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao being initiated by OIC-Regional Governor Mujiv S. Hataman for open governance, integrity of leadership, quality delivery of services, and for peace and development in the region,” the group said in an open letter sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner the southern Philippines.

The letter was signed by Sheikh Abdulwakil Tanjilil, of the Darul Ifta in Western Mindanao and Palawan; Dr. Aboulkhair Tarason, of the National Ulama Conference of the Philippines; Sheikh Jamal Sakaluran Munib, Ulama and Muslim Professionals Association of the Philippines; Sheikh Abdulmuhmin Mujahid, ZamBaSulTa Ulama Supreme Council; Ustadza Mona Aiyub, of the Al-Muhminat Organization; Raisa Ismael, United Youth of the Philippines; Meriam Abba, Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society; and Atty. Hasan Kiram, of the Kasajahitraan sin Kawman Bangsa Movement.

“We are confident that, with your support Your Excellency, the fight against corruption, to regain the trust and confidence of our people to support their leaders as public servants not as warlords or landlords, and for moral recovery, and to continue our efforts in peacemaking and peacekeeping in Mindanao to make our people and communities free from fear and free from want, the continuation of the leadership of Hon. Mujiv S. Hataman would pave the way to make all these a reality,” they said.

“Therefore, Your Excellency, in the interest of public trust and confidence, in the exigency of quality service, and foremost of all for peace and development in Mindanao, we appeal to you Your Excellency, and call upon our constituents to allow OIC Regional Governor Mujiv S. Hataman to continue the integrity of leadership in the ARMM by making him the Standard Bearer of your Party Your Excellency to run for the Regional Governorship in the ARMM this forthcoming 2013 synchronize elections.”

But Muslim leaders in Mindanao, who are pushing for Sulu Governor Sakur to run in the top ARMM post, were also asking Aquino to make good his promise that all those he appointed as officers-in-charge in ARMM will not seek or run in the regional elections, including Hataman, a former Anak Mindanao party list congressman and his political ally.

They said fielding Hataman as the government’s bet for the ARMM gubernatorial race may cause divisions among Muslims in the five-province autonomous region, and Mindanao as well.

In a separate statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner, the Davao-based Movement for Sustainable Good Governance said such action may also cause the Palace to lose the goodwill with the people in Mindanao, who are likely to see the President’s appointment of Hataman to the top post in 2011 as a mere political charade to increase his winnability in the 2013 ARMM elections.

MSGG convenor, Dr. Amildasa Annil, admonished political groups against fanning talks of alleged Aquino-led conspiracies to divide Muslim leaders by creating scenarios that Hataman was appointed by the President to build political winnability in the synchronized local, regional and national elections.

“No less than President Aquino, in a press conference held June 30, 2011, stated that one of the qualifications for OIC appointment is yung walang balak tumakbo sa ARMM Regional Government. It is best for the President to show that his move of appointing Hataman to the ARMM post as being aimed at bringing goodwill  and social contract with Muslims in Mindanao; and that such move was not a political scheme by the President to later anoint Hataman the administration candidate for ARMM governorship this 2013 elections,” Annil said.

He said they are endorsing the candidacy of Tan to run for regional governor and as official administration candidate and standard bearer of the country’s ruling Liberal Party.

“Civil society organizations in Mindanao strongly support the leadership of Governor Sakur Tan because of his genuine and untainted political career and sincerity to serve the people and bring peace, progress and development not only to Sulu province, but to the whole of the ARMM,” said Annil, who described Tan as an “alternative Muslim leader.”

Earlier, the Bangsamoro Women’s Committee of the Moro National Liberation Front led by Nurunniaar Mohammad and some of Mindanao’s influential clerics and scholars, including Mahdi Baguinda, Muhamin Sakili, Jul Asli Abirin, Jamal Munib, Abdulwahid Inju and Abdul Khabier Jamani also strongly endorsed Tan’s candidacy to the ARMM gubernatorial post.

Aquino has already chosen Hataman to run for the top ARMM post last week after meeting with the 5 governors of the autonomous region – Jum Akbar, of Basilan province; Sakur Tan, of Sulu; Sadikul Sahali, of Tawi-Tawi; Esmael Mangudadatu, of Maguindanao; and Mamintal Adiong, of Lanao del Sur and telling them of his decision to field Hataman as the lone Liberal Party candidate for the gubernatorial post.

Hataman said he would abide by Aquino’s decision to seek election in the ARMM. (Mindanao Examiner)

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