Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi was proclaimed the winner in the mayoral race in Cotabato on Tuesday night.
John Unson
Cotabato City's Guiani-Sayadi wins fresh mandate
John Unson ( - May 15, 2019 - 12:56pm

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — A local chief executive who opposed the city’s inclusion in the Bangsamoro region won the May 13 mayoral race but an outspoken counterpart in Basilan was not as lucky.

Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi was first elected vice mayor in the May 2016 polls and assumed as mayor after older brother Japal Guiani, Jr. died from an illness within weeks of the polls.

Guiani-Sayadi, a lawyer, defeated third-termer Maguindanao Rep. Sandra Sema, who is identified with both the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Both were in the news for their opposing stances on the Bangsamoro Organic Law, or BOL, that paved the way for the replacement of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with an MILF-led Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Guiani-Sayadi spoke against the inclusion of Cotabato City while Sema, one of the authors of the BOL, campaigned extensively for the ratification of the measure.

Cotabato City, originally under Region 12, eventually became a component area of BARMM after local residents voted in favor of BOL during the January 21 plebiscite held simultaneously in ARMM’s five provinces that now comprise the fledgling Bangsamoro region.

Guiani-Sayadi has a pending legal protest on the outcome of the exercise on grounds of violence, intimidation of voters and fraud.

Sema said on Wednesday that she has accepted the result of the elections in Cotabato City.

“The elections are over. We congratulate the winners. We may now move on and secure the peace now in our homeland,” Sema said.

Guiani-Sayadi told reporters after her proclamation by the poll body on Tuesday night that she would focus on more peace and development programs meant to improve the lives of the Muslim, Christians and Lumad communities in Cotabato City.

Akbar loses bid for Isabela City mayor

Besides Guiani-Sayadi, the vice mayor of Isabela City, Cherry Akbar, opposed ratification of the BOL. Sitti Djalia Turabin Hataman, her rival for mayor, campaigned for ratification.

Akbar succeeded in convincing her constituents against the inclusion of Isabela City into BARMM and the city voted to remain under Administrative Region 9.

Akbar, one of three widows of former Basilan Rep. Wahab Akbar, has conceded defeat to the newcomer Hataman.

“The election is over and the people have chosen. As a good leader and warrior, I accept my defeat with humility and courage, “Akbar said.

Her failed bid for Isabela City’s highest elective post has cut the last string binding the Akbar clan to Basilan’s political world.

The Akbars ruled Basilan for some 20 years until Jim Salliman, whose wife, Bai Annie, is daughter of a popular Moro peace activist, the late former Maguindanao Rep. Simeon Datumanong, was elected governor of the island province in 2016.

The reelected Salliman defeated last Monday a challenger from the Akbar family, Alfiya,  daughter of erstwhile Rep. Akbar, who was killed in a bomb explosion at the Batasan Complex in Quezon City on Nov. 13, 2007. 

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