Hataman unfazed on facing challenger

John Unson - Philstar.com

COTABATO CITY, Philippines - The reelectionist governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is not bothered facing a challenger, Vice Gov. Sakur Tan Sr. of Sulu province in next year’s regional electoral exercise.

Sulu, which has 18 towns, is known worldwide as haven of the extremist Abu Sayaff, feared for beheading captives, kidnapped abroad and in  nearby Mindanao provinces, if ransom demands are not met.

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman and his running mate, the incumbent Regional Vice Gov. Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman, who hails from Lanao del Sur, are seeking reelection in tandem as official candidates of the Liberal Party (LP).

“I’m not bothered at all facing a challenger because we advocate political democracy in ARMM. This is part of our reform efforts to foster peace and achievable development in this part of the country,” Hataman said.

The ARMM covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, which are both in mainland Mindanao, and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

In an apparent show of solidarity with Hataman and Lucman, mayors in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan rabidly reject the candidacy of Tan when they talk to reporters and in their speeches during gatherings in their respective towns.

LP stalwarts Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and his counterpart in Lanao del Sur, Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr., are also as vocal in expressing patronage of Hataman and Lucman’s political aspirations.

The mayor of Tawi-Tawi’s capital town, Jasper Que, had volunteered as early as November to campaign for Hataman and Lucman in all of the towns in the province.

Some local officials in Tawi-Tawi have been telling reporters they support Hataman and Lucman, but could not speak out freely for fear of reprisals.

Mayors in Tawi-Tawi belong to the LP, the same party where upbeat reelectionists Gov. Nurbert Sahali and Rep. Ruby Sahali both belong.

Lucman, scion of the Maranaw royalty in Bayang town in Lanao Del Sur, said mayors in the province, a known Hataman political bailiwick, see next year’s ARMM gubernatorial race as a “statutory faceoff” between the good governance practices and reform initiatives of present regional officials and "primitive, old school traditional politics."

He said incumbent regional officials are not warlords.

“Voters in the region would not want a return to the old ARMM, when political impunity was felt everywhere. Development, in terms of investment markup and infrastructure accomplishments can now be seen in so many areas in the ARMM, something never seen before,” Lucman said.

Lucman said mayors and their constituents in Lanao del Sur will not unwisely gamble in selecting a candidate for ARMM governor in next year’s May regional elections.  

“They know whom to vote for. We are not scared of seeing Gov. Hataman face a challenger in the forthcoming ARMM elections,” Lucman said.












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