Aquino asks Hataman to 'sacrifice' as ARMM bet
Roel Pareño ( - October 12, 2015 - 4:22am

MANILA, Philippines — President Benigno Aquino III endorsed a candidate for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) despite hopes of passing the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by December.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman said the president has asked him to file his cerficate of candidacy (COC) for reelection, while telling him to be ready to step down once the BBL is passed to allow room for transition.

Hataman bared Aquino's plan for him as he officially declared his reelection bid on Sunday during the first Basilan people's assembly where he united all incumbent leaders to run under one administration ticket.

"I want to make it clear, [my re-election] doesn't mean the BBL is dead. That is very clear from the president," Hataman said.

He said November and December will be a critical period in Congress for the passage of the measure creating a Bangsamoro region to replace the ARMM as a result of a decade-long peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberal Front (MILF).

"Brother, mag-file ka, pero sakripisyo ito. I-clear ko sa'yo the BBL is not dead at ipu-push ko," said Hataman, quoting Aquino as saying.

Hataman said the president told him about the plan Thursday during their meeting in Manila.

He said the president doubted that if another candidate would run for the gubernatorial post in ARMM, it would be difficult for the administration to convince him to step down citing possible legal matters.

"There is no problem for me because that's how tight our advocacy to pass the BBL measure was," Hataman said.

With MILF's blessings

Hataman said he visited the MILF and informed the group of the president's plan for him to file.

"I visited and talked to them (MILF), explaining about the plan baka ma-misunderstood n'yo na mag-file ako ng kandidatura. This doesn't mean the BBL is dead," Hataman said. "This is a sacrifice for me because once BBL is passed and ratified by January, I may not be a candidate."

He said the MILF leadership was confident of Aquino's sincerity in passing the BBL and expressed understanding of the political dynamics involved.

During the people's assembly, meanwhile, Hataman also proclaimed the candidacy of local leaders in Basilan.

He said outgoing Basilan Gov. Jum Akbar, widow of Rep. Wahab Akbar, will seek to represent the lone congressional district of the province.

Hataman said his brother, incumbent Rep. Jim Saliman will run for the gubernatorial post while all the incumbent mayors will retain their posts under the ruling administration's Liberal Party.

He said outgoing Isabela City Mayor Cherrylyn Santos-Akbar, another widow of the late Cong. Akbar, will run for vice mayor. The son of the current Basilan Gov. Alquaid Akbar, meanwhile, will run as mayor.

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