Ex-Maguindanao LP chair, followers join PDP-Laban PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 14 September 2012 14:19

The erstwhile provincial chairman the Liberal Party for Maguindanao and dozens of his followers pledged allegiance to the Partido ng Demokrating Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) in Manila Wednesday, just two days after 26 mayors in the province swore in as new LP members.

Hadji Tucao Mastura, mayor of Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, who is to aspire for Maguindanao’s gubernatorial post in next year’s elections, and his running mate, Datu Ali Midtimbang, took their oaths, along with their followers, before Vice President Jejomar Binay and PDP-Laban’s secretary-general former Tarlac Rep, Jose “Peping Cojuangco, Jr.

Midtimbang, who belongs to the Maguindanaon Moro royalty, was former mayor of Talayan, whose clan wields clout over thousands of registered voters in the area and two neighboring municipalities, Guindulungan and Datu Anggal.

Mastura and his supporters joined the PDP-Laban two days after 26 Maguindanao mayors, led by Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, took oath as new LP members before the governor and former Senator Ramon Magsaysay, Jr. in a gathering in Buluan town in the second district of the province.

Mastura said he had resigned from the administration party even prior to Monday’s mass oath taking by the 26 mayors in Buluan.

Mastura, a scion of the Sultan Kudarat nobility, said he explicitly stated in his resignation letter to the national directorate of the LP that he could not accept Mangudadatu’s having been accepted into  the fold of the administration party.

Talks are rife that Mastura, touted as the “engineer” of President Aquino’s victory in Maguindanao during the 2010 presidential polls, was already being recruited into the PDP-Laban by political lieutenants of Binay as early as June this year.

The Masturas and the Mangudadatus helped each other beat all odds in the 2010 elections, where they outperformed wealthy and supposedly politically-influential adversaries, among them the patriarch of the Ampatuan clan, the detained former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan, Sr.

Mastura’s nephew, Dustin, who is the incumbent vice-governor of Maguindanao, also joined the PDP-Laban.

Mastura was joined in his oath-taking as new PDP-Laban member by the mayors of the Talayan, Guindulungan, Mamasapano, Datu Saudi, Sultan Mastura, all recipients of the good housekeeping and governance awards by the central office of the Department of Interior and Local Government.

Mastura said he is not bothered by the entry of the 26 of Maguindanao’s 36 towns into the Liberal Party.

The move of the 26 mayors virtually set the start of what could become an intense rivalry between Mangudadatu, who joined the LP last July, and Mastura.

Mastura, who was appointed 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, started as allies.

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

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.