Basilan's Hataman named House deputy speaker

Basilan's Hataman named House deputy speaker
In this file photo, Mujiv Hataman, then governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao talks to media.
The STAR / Roel Pareño

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Rep. Mujiv Hataman (Basilan) has been elected a deputy speaker at the House of Representatives, which local officials say will mean a louder voice for the region, especially on legislation related to the peace process in the southern Philippines.

Hataman was governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao for seven years prior his election as Basilan congressman in May. He was the second Yakan from Basilan to become a deputy speaker after Andulghani "Gerry" Salapuddin, who now heads the Southern Philippines Development Authority.

"This is a big challenge and for me a new governance frontier. I give the honor of having been voted deputy speaker not to myself but to people in Basilan and all other provinces in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao," Hataman said Wednesday.

The BARMM, which replaces the defunct ARMM, comprises Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, the cities of Marawi and Lamitan and more than 60 barangays in North Cotabato province.

Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu (Maguindanao, 2nd District), with whom Hataman had worked in peace advocacy programs while he was ARMM governor, has been elected vice chairman of the House defense committee. 

Major Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Western Mindanao Command, said Wednesday that he is confident Hataman and Mangudadatu will work together on legislation in support of the peace process.

"They both have accomplishments on their respective peace initiatives that I have seen before they became members of the House of Representatives. They surely will speak for the Moro cause up there," Sobejana said.

"The indigenous people in Maguindanao are assured of a loud voice in Congress through him and Congressman Mangudadatu," Mayor Ramon Piang of Upi, Maguindanao province said. — The STAR/John Unson

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