Lamitan women voters vow support for Roxas, Hataman

John Unson - Philstar.com

COTABATO CITY, Philippines - Women from among more than 48,000 registered voters in Lamitan City will vote for candidates of the Liberal Party (LP) for president and governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in next year’s elections, local officials said Wednesday.

Lamitan City Vice Mayor Roderick Furigay said all of his constituent-female barangay officials had assured to campaign only for the party’s presidential standard bearer, Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, and ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, who is seeking a second term as administration candidate.

“They are for Hataman because of his administration’s so many flagship projects in Lamitan City that empowered Muslim and Christian women, projects that gave their children easy access to schools and health services,” Furigay said.

Hataman’s reelection bid is being challenged by Sulu Vice Gov. Sakur Tan Sr., also an LP member, who filed his certificate of candidacy for governor without permission from the party.

Tan had served as governor of the so hostile Sulu island province for three consecutive terms before he was elected provincial vice governor during the May 13, 2013 local polls.

Sulu, which has 18 towns, ranks second to Lanao del Sur, also a component area of ARMM, in prevalence of deadly clan wars.

The island province, a hotbed of religious extremism, is being used by the dreaded Abu Sayaff group as harboring site for Filipinos and foreigners kidnapped elsewhere. The Abu Sayaff is feared for its practice of beheading captives if ransom demands are not met.

Furigay, chair of the Lamitan City LP chapter, said registered voters in the city’s 45 barangays are aware that it was for President Benigno Aquino III’s generosity, in terms of fiscal support, that the ARMM government had implemented more than P500 million worth of projects in local peasant and fishing enclaves in the past three years.

Lamitan City is the capital of Basilan, one of the five provinces in the autonomous region.

Cirila Aroa, chairperson of the vote-rich Barangay Sta. Clara, said what is fascinating for them is how Malacañang and the ARMM government are jointly maximizing the implementation of agrarian reform programs in Basilan province.

“Mothers would always want their peasant spouses to have lands they can till as their own,” Aroa said.

Chairwoman Leticia Gammad of Barangay Malinis in west of Lamitan City said her constituents have also promised to vote for Roxas, vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo, and Hataman during the May 2016 synchronized presidential, regional and local elections.

“We are for a regional leader who is a reformist, not a warlord, a leader who supports the Mindanao peace process without any reservation,” said Midang Etok, chair of Barangay Campo Uno.

Jaime Ortega, chairman of Barangay Malakas, said more than 600 housewives in sitios under his jurisdiction have volunteered to campaign for Roxas, Robredo and Hataman during next year’s election period.

Furigay said they can easily deliver a “block vote” for their favored presidential, vice presidential and ARMM gubernatorial candidates since he and his spouse, Lamitan City Mayor Rose Furigay, are both seeking reelection unopposed.

Sukarno Mangkabong, chair of Barangay Matibay, said all of the ten other municipal mayors in towns scattered around Basilan are as politically loyal to Hataman, who hails from Sumisip town in west of the island province.

Hataman first got to the helm of the ARMM government in December 2011 as an appointed caretaker and was, subsequently, elected as the eighth regional governor of the region on May 13, 2013.

“We now have a fully concreted circumferential road in the province and so many farm-to-market roads connected to that highway so how can we not vote for candidates of the Liberal Party? Next year’s election is the time for us to repay the goodness to us of Malacañang in the past three years,” Mangkabong said.

Besides the Furigay couple, six municipal mayors in Basilan, namely Jomar Maturan of Ungkaya Pukan, Alih Sali of Akbar, Arcam Istarul of Tipo-Tipo, Gulam Hataman of Sumisip,  Muktar Junaid of Tabuanlasa, and Rustam Ismael of Lantawan, are also seeking reelection unopposed.












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