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Robredo gets backing of MILF in historic endorsement

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Robredo gets backing of MILF in historic endorsement
Vice President Leni Robredo is endorsed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and its political party, the United Bangsamoro Justice Party on April 23, 2022.
Sourced photo

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 5:59 p.m.) — The Moro Islamic Liberation Front and its political party, the United Bangsamoro Justice Party, has endorsed the presidential bid of Vice President Leni Robredo, a much-needed boost in the Bangsamoro region where provincial governors have declared support for survey frontrunner Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

This is the first time that the MILF and the UBJP came out in support of a presidential candidate. UBJP was organized in 2014 in anticipation of the passage of a law that would implement the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro and create the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.  

On the sidelines of an event in Basilan, Deputy Speaker Mujiv Hataman (Basilan) called the endorsement a "big boost" for the Robredo campaign.

"The MILF is an organization that is founded on the principles embodying the Moro people's clamor for self-governance and self-determination. And I believe that no other presidential candidate genuinely believes in and recognizes these principles more than VP Leni," he said.

"The UBJP and MILF’s support is indeed a big boost to VP Leni’s campaign not only in BARMM but in the whole of Mindanao. But we must not be complacent, there is more to be done. We must double our efforts if we wish to elect a leader who will ensure there is good governance in public service," Hataman said.

Even before their endorsement, signs were already pointing that they were mulling to back the independent presidential candidate, with Bangsamoro chief minister Ahod Ebrahim saying in a meeting with her last month that they are looking forward to a Robredo presidency.

Vice President Leni Robredo, a presidential candidate, thanks the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the United Bangsamoro Justice Party for the crucial endorsements from the Bangsamoro region while inside the camp of the MILF on her 57th birthday on April 23, 2022.
Robredo campaign

“We look forward for the vice president to be our next president in order to achieve the continuity we need for the implementation of the peace process,” he said then.

In the 16th Congress, Robredo was one of the co-authors of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which was the predecessor to the Bangsamoro Organic Law — the culmination of years-long peace negotiations that created a new autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao led primarily by the MILF.

BARMM Chief Minister Ebrahim, also known as Al-hajj Murad Ebrahim, is chairman of the MILF.

BARMM guvs go for Marcos

While the MILF and UBJP is endorsing Robredo, four of the five Bangsamoro governors have come out in support of Marcos.

Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal “Bombit” Alonto Adiong Jr., Maguindanao Gov. Mariam Mangudadatur, Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan and Tawi-Tawi Gov. Yshmael Sali have all declared support for Marcos. 

Basilan Gov. Hadjiman Hataman-Salliman is the only BARMM governor to come out in support of Robredo.

The governors' endorsements come despite the atrocities committed during the regime of Marcos’ father, the ousted dictator Ferdinand Sr., including the infamous Jabidah Massacre that sparked the Moro independence movement that also eventually led to the creation of the MILF.

The MILF and UBJP’s endorsement of Robredo will likely not sway the four governors to defect from Marcos.

"Hindi kami ang sasama sa inyo. Kayo ang sumama sa amin. (We will not join you. You join us)," Sulu Gov. Tan, who  said Friday night as he endorsed Marcos. Sulu voted against ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law in 2019.

The Bangsamoro region has just 2.58 million registered voters, but it proved to critical in the 2016 vice-presidential race as Marcos chose to contest poll results there. Marcos lost his electoral protest, with the Presidential Electoral Tribunal voting unanimously against his bid.

Robredo won against Marcos in Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Tawi-Tawi in 2016. — with a report from The STAR/Roel Pareño

2022 ELECTIONS

LENI ROBREDO

MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT

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