Maguindanao an LP stronghold now PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 14:07

Liberal Party stalwart Ramon Magsaysay, Jr. swore in Monday 26 of Maguindanao’s 36 mayors as members of the Liberal Party, which is fast rising as the most dominant group now in a province known as bastion of the Lakas-Christian, Muslim Democrats.

The mayors’ move virtually set the start of what could become an intense rivalry between Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, who joined the LP last July, and Mayor Hadji Tucao Mastura of Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, who is to contest the governor’s bid for a second term in the 2013 elections.

Mastura, who was designated in 2010 by the LP’s national directorate as provincial party chairman for Maguindanao, and Magudadatu, who hails from the second district of the province, were allies in the last local elections.

The incumbent Maguindanao vice governor, Dustin Mastura, who was Mangudadatu’s running mate in 2010, is Mayor Mastura’s nephew.

Lawyer Bobby Katambak, a legal adviser of the Maguindanao provincial government, said the 26 mayors that took their oath “en masse” before Magsaysay, a former senator, recognizes Mangudadatu as the party’s figurehead now in the province.

The oath taking of the 26 of Maguindanao’s 36 mayors was held in Buluan, hometown of Mangudadatu.

Katambak, who is an undersecretary in the local government department of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said Mangudadatu wants to “remain silent” on his having been acknowledged by his constituent-mayors as their party leader now.

Katambak said the mayors, in fact, decided to join the LP and pledge allegiance to the party in a symbolic rite in Buluan last Monday through the intercession of Mangudadatu.

Among the mayors jointly sworn in by Magsaysay and Mangudadatu was Upi Mayor Ramon Piang, an ethnic Teduray timuay (chieftain) who wields influence over thousands of registered indigenous, non-Muslim voters in his town and in the nearby South Upi and Datu Blah towns, also in Maguindanao.

Dozens of vice mayors and municipal councilors also took their oath as new LP members in the same event.

Magsaysay, who addressed the new LP members, said he is certain the solidarity of local officials in Maguindanao under the administration party will usher in peace and sustainable development in the province.

“We can be sure now peace and progress will soon spread around the province as a result of the unity of political leaders in the area,” Magsaysay said.

An apparently overwhelmed Mangudadatu declined to give reporters his personal assessment of his “winning chances” in the 2013 Maguindanao gubernatorial race.

“I have to focus meantime on so many concerns besetting my constituents, among them the need to immediately restore normalcy in areas recently devasted by armed conflicts and natural calamities such as flashfloods,” Mangudadatu said.

Magsaysay also declared Mangudadatu, who originally belonged to the Lakas-Christian, Muslim Democrats Party, and Datu Odin Mayor Lester Sinsuat, as the LP’s candidates for governor and vice governor, respectively, in next year’s elections in the province.

Catholic station dxMS, Cotabato City’s oldest broadcast outfit, reported Tuesday  that the Masturas in the first district of Maguindanao have rescinded their LP membership even before Monday’s oath taking rites in Buluan.

According to dxMS, Vice Gov. Mastura and his mayor- uncle, along with their supporters, from across the province, are to pledge loyalty to the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, or PDP-LABAN anytime this month.

Talks have been circulating here for two weeks now purporting that political assistants of Vice President Jejomar Binay have already been convincing the Masturas and their supporters to join PDP-LABAN as early as July.