Marawi mayoral bet urges voters to exercise ‘halal’ voting rights PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 12 April 2016 14:31

There is a mayoral candidate in Marawi City who is using da’awah to propagate public consciousness on the Islamic context of electoral exercises instead of satirical discourses destroying rivals.

Erstwhile Marawi City mayor Solitario Ali, now aspiring for the same post, has been using Facebook to tell voters it is alright for them to join electoral exercises as long as leading to the protection of their rights and freedom in religion.

Marawi City, touted as the country’s only Islamic City, is a component area of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Ali’s bid for the Marawi mayoral post is being contested by Majul Gandamra, an incumbent member of the ARMM’s 24-seat Regional Assembly, the “little Malacañang” of the autonomous region.

Ali has not been attacking Gandamra when he goes around announcing his platform of government.

In one of his campaign “infographic” visual aids, Ali prodded Marawi City voters to exercise their right of suffrage via a “halal” procedure.

The term halal is Arabic for food that Muslims can eat, free from alcohol and pork.

Halal can also be used to refer to livelihood, governance and electoral exercises that are clean and not against Islamic teachings meant to achieve spiritual perfection, particularly on respect for life and love for neighbors regardless of religions and ethnicity.

A Maranaw former intelligence and security director of the Office of the Regional Governor in ARMM, who asked not to be identified, said Ali is likely to defeat Gandamra in the Marawi City mayoral race on May 9 owing to his campaign pitch that fascinates conservative voters.

“For every ten voters in Marawi City, eight are likely to vote for Ali while two would choose Gandamra,” the former ARMM regional official said.

There are 96 barangays in Marawi City, an old settlement overlooking the majestic Lake Lanao in the center of Lanao del Sur province, whose native folks are called Maranaws, which means “people of the lake.”

“It is good to see him (Ali) invoke religious principles in campaigning for himself. In Islam there is oneness of religion and politics. There is no separation of government and religion,” commented Imam Zulkarnain, a cleric who studied Islamic theology in the Middle East.

Ali, a senior official of the Moro National Liberation Front, was mayor of Marawi City for two consecutive terms after the crafting on September 2, 1996 of the government-MNLF peace pact.

Ali is a long-time comrade in the MNLF of a mayoral candidate in Cotabato City, Datu Muslimin Sema, chairman of the largest of three factions in the MNLF.

Sema has also been so sober in his campaign discourses, talking only about good governance and the need for Muslims, Christian and Lumad folks in Cotabato City and nearby provinces to cooperate in sustaining the gains of the Mindanao peace process.