MNLF leader to campaign for peace, solidarity of Cotabato City residents PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 29 September 2012 14:12

The Moro National Liberation Front will focus its campaign for its favored candidate for various elective posts in Cotabato City on the need for Muslim-Christian solidarity in pushing forward the government’s separate peace overture with the MNLF and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The chairman of the MNLF’s largest and most politically-active group, Cotabato City Vice-Mayor Muslimin Sema, said the strategy will help promote public consciousness on the importance of the Mindanao peace process to the economic and political growth of Cotabato City and surrounding provinces in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Sema is to aspire for mayor of Cotabato City in next year’s elections, along with running mate lawyer Willy Bueno, whose third and last term as councilor here will end on June 30, 2013.

“If there is `lasting, durable peace’ in Cotabato City and surrounding areas, development will set in, investors will come and put up business ventures that can generate employment for Muslim and Christian workers,” said Sema, who served as undefeated mayor here from 2001 to 2010.

Sema clarified, however, that the Mindanao peace process is only a part of their campaign pitch, which is to be premised on domestic peace and security issues, delivery of basic services to far-flung areas, and generation of livelihood opportunities for the local communities through infrastructure projects and capacity-building initiatives.

Sema said the most pressing concern they are to discuss with residents of the 37 barangays here are local security issues and perennial flooding in low-lying villages.

Sema, Bueno and their 10-member slate for the city council pledged allegiance to the Liberal Party last Sept. 21 before LP national officials in Manila.

Five of the LP’s candidates for the council, human rights lawyer Froilan Melendrez, veteran radio news anchor Florante Formento, Sukarno Sema, and Kus Taha, and Dick Datumanong are incumbent members of the city council.

A former Cotabato City councilor, Bruce Matabalao, is also to run for a seat in the council under the Sema-Bueno ticket.

Four chairpersons — Zenny Montañer-Langco, John Irving Mangulamas, Anwar Lucas and Mike Sekak,  of vote-rich barangays, where Sema defeated his rivals for the city’s vice-mayoral post during the 2010 elections.

Sema said they are to focus their campaign on peaceful dialogues among barangay folks on vital issues besetting the city’s Muslim and Christian communities.

Bueno and Sema both said among the issues they are to raise during the campaign period is how the local communities the police and military can cooperate extensively in addressing the nagging peace and order problems hounding the city.

Bueno both said they are ready to sign a peace covenant with the Commission on Elections stating their team’s commitment to abide by the Omnibus Election Code.

Bueno, a retired regional director of the Comelec, said they will also encourage registered voters, during the campaign period, to exercise their right of suffrage.

Bueno said voting for the right candidates for local positions next year is just as important as helping maintain law and order in Cotabato City.

Sema and Bueno also both assured said they will not “attack and, ridicule” rivals in their campaign sorties and that they would rather go for peaceful dialogues with barangays folks to build consensus on how local officials and the city’s Muslim and Christian communities can help one another build peace and foster sustainable development in the area.