Monday, February 15, 2010

Maguindanao governor throws support for ex-Defense chief presidential bid

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 15, 2010) – Acting Maguindanao governor Nariman Ambolodto has vowed Monday to support the administration’s presidential bet Gilberto Teodoro.

Ambolodto, who belongs to the ruling political coalition Lakas-Kampi-CMD, said her loyalty to the party will not change.

The acting governor said she is supporting the presidential bid of the former defense chief even if civil society groups backed by the Catholic Church are throwing their support to opposition senator Benigno Aquino III, who is also running for the presidency in the May national polls.

“I am a member of the ruling political coalition and I am supporting the presidential candidacy of Gilberto Teodoro,” she told the Mindanao Examiner.

Civil groups are also supporting Ambolodto who was named acting governor of Maguindanao in December by Ansaruddin Adiong, the acting governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Ambolodto said she is not running anymore in the coming elections, but would continue her term as acting provincial governor or until a new governor is elected in May. “I am not running anymore in the coming elections. What I am doing now is for the sake of Maguindanao and my people,” she said.

Ambolodto is the first Muslim woman appointed as acting governor in Maguindanao, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region. She was elected in 2007 as provincial board member and named as acting vice governor in Maguindanao and later on as acting governor.

Adiong earlier created a committee headed by ARMM Interior Secretary Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman to screen all the aspirants to Maguindanao’s vacancies spawned by the indictment and arrest of elected provincial officials in connection to the massacre.

Authorities arrested the governor of Maguindanao, Andal Ampatuan Sr and his sons led by ARMM governor Zaldy Ampatuan, after they were implicated in the brutal murders of 57 people, including at least 31 journalists in November 23 in Maguindanao. The Ampatuans denied all the accusations against them.

Despite the charges against the Ampatuans and over a hundred others implicated in the carnage, many of their relatives and family members are also seeking elective posts in the May polls.

There are 10 vacancies in the Maguindanao provincial legislative council. More than 100 people have applied or nominated for the various vacancies from the acting governor to the legislative council in Maguindanao.

Sources in the province said the problem in the selection process in Maguindanao even grew more complicated after conservative Muslim leaders joined the tug-of-war against the perceived “church interference” in the local affairs of the largely Muslim province.

Supporters of former congressman, Guimid Matalam, are also endorsing him to be the acting governor or officer-in-charge of Maguindanao province. At least 20 others are also interested in the same position, but some of them are known influential politicians in Maguindanao - Asnawi Sinsuat Limbona, Bongarsa Tomawis, Harris Mastura, Bai Mompong Mentang and Armando Lidasan.

Sources did not identify the church leaders backing Ambolodto and Aquino, but Cotabato Bishop Orlando Quevedo is a known supporter of the senator. Followers of Adiong also doubted Ambolodto’s loyalty, saying, she allegedly snubbed him in several occasions in the province for still unknown reasons.

Adiong could not be reached to comment on the reports. Sources also said that because of the growing indifference of Ambolodto towards the ARMM leadership and the perceived meddling of the Catholic Church in the affairs of the Maguindanao, supporters of Adiong are now pushing for the immediate appointments of new acting governor and provincial board members. (Mindanao Examiner)

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