Thursday, June 16, 2011
COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / June 16, 2011) – Various groups and even politicians were reported lobbying Manila to appoint their candidates as officers- in-charge to run the affairs of the five-province Muslim autonomous region after this year’s polls were postponed to 2013.
The lobbying was said to have started after President Benigno Aquino III said he would appoint people that would run the autonomous region until the synchronized mid-term elections are held.
Aquino said he would form a committee to select the “right people” for the job. He said those who would be appointed officers-in-charge must continue his reform in the Muslim autonomous region and would not seek elections in 2013.
The autonomous region is comprised of Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur.
Although Aquino has yet to form the selection committee, several groups have floated the names of Yasmin Lao, a prominent Muslim peace advocate who founded the Al-Mujadillah Development Foundation. She was also conferred the “Ninoy Aquino Public Service Award” for her work in uplifting the plight of the marginalized.
Lao ran with Aquino as his lone female Muslim senatorial candidate of the Liberal Party for the May 2010 elections, but lost.
Other groups also named a prominent lawyer and Aquino’s Undersecretary Nabil Tan, who is an expert in the peace process and served in the government in various capacities under different Presidents and was also a former deputy governor of the Muslim autonomous region.
Tan has many achievements, but mostly worked silently and behind the shadows of Presidents he had served. His colorful career, spanning several decades, earned him many awards and commendations from different governments and organizations.
Former congressman Mujiv Hataman, who filed his gubernatorial candidacy for the regional polls, is also on the list of those seeking to be appointed by Aquino, despite Manila’s pronouncement that those who would be named officers-in-charge would not seek election in 2013.
Hataman was a former aide to Basilan Governor Wahab Akbar and eventually broke ties with him and ran for a seat in Congress under the Anak Mindanao party list group.
Akbar and two others were killed in a bomb attack outside Congress in 2007 and authorities have implicated politicians in Basilan as behind the blast.
Presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles, who has been endorsed to head the government’s committee that would select the officers-in-charge, is herself being floated by some groups to become the “acting” regional governor because of her sincere efforts in pursuing Aquino’s reform program in the Muslim autonomous region.
Four Muslim governors who supported Aquino’s postponement of the regional elections were Dr Sakur Tan, of Sulu; Jum Akbar, of Basilan; Sadikul Sahali, of Tawi-Tawi and Esmael Mangudadatu, of Maguindanao.
Governor Mamintal Adiong, of Lanao del Sur, who also filed his gubernatorial candidacy for the regional polls, stood side by side with his younger brother, Ansaruddin Adiong, the acting governor of the Muslim autonomous region, against the postponement of the elections. His brother also filed his reelection as regional vice governor.
Aquino wanted the regional polls synchronized to prevent fraud and cheating and introduce reforms in the Muslim autonomous region, whose governor Zaldy Ampatuan, was jailed along with his father Andal Sr and brother Andal Jr and several relatives after being accused as behind the brutal murders of 57 people, mostly journalists who were in a political convoy, in 2009. The Ampatuans denied the accusations. (Mindanao Examiner)