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Supporters show up for MNLF chairman's COC filing in Cotabato

John Unson (Philstar.com) - October 16, 2015 - 1:21am

COTABATO CITY, Philippines - Thousands of local voters on Thursday marched around as their favored mayoral bet, the chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front, filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) under the banner of the Liberal Party (LP).

The show of force by supporters of mayoral wannabe Muslimin Sema, leader of the largest of three groups in the MNLF, was something extraordinary for residents of Cotabato City.

Sema had served as Cotabato City mayor for three consecutive terms.

Sema’s running mate, vice mayoral candidate Mohammad Pasigan, a businessman, also filed his COC on Thursday.

The MNLF leader will contest the bid for a third term of incumbent Cotabato City Mayor Japal Guiani Jr.

Sema was accompanied to the office of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Cotabato City by his spouse, Sandra, an incumbent congresswoman, who is seeking reelection as LP candidate.

Rep. Sema is presently in her second term as congressional representative of 11 Maguindanao towns and Cotabato City, which has 37 barangays, where she has ongoing costly infrastructure projects designed to generate livelihood opportunities for the local agriculture and fishery sectors.

The former mayor Sema, most known here for his tag “peacemaker,” and his entire slate for the city council launched their candidacy with a pitch to work together in addressing the nagging peace and security issues besetting the city.

Among LP’s anointed candidate for city councilor is the incumbent Bruce Matabalao, who was first elected during the May 13, 2013 local polls.

Matabalao, a former broadcast journalist, is popular for his involvement in peace-building activities meant to foster solidarity among Muslims and Christians in the city and in other areas in Central Mindanao.

The MNLF faction led by Sema has thousands of followers scattered across Central Mindanao and in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Unlike Nur Misuari, who also leads a faction in the MNLF, Sema is not hostile to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and is even supportive of President Benigno Aquino III’s diplomatic dealings with the MILF.

The firebrand Misuari is rabidly opposed to the ongoing government-MILF peace efforts and has been asserting that Malacañang’s peace pact with the group abrogated the September 2, 1996 final GPH-MNLF truce.

AUTONOMOUS REGION BRUCE MATABALAO CENTRAL MINDANAO CITY COTABATO CITY COTABATO CITY MAYOR JAPAL GUIANI JR. LIBERAL PARTY MOHAMMAD PASIGAN MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT MORO NATIONAL LIBERATION FRONT SEMA
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