Peaceful campaign starts in ARMM, Central Mindanao PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 02 April 2013 10:45

How to forge ahead with the Mindanao peace process; to have a safe and fair elections in May 2013; and achieve “participatory governance” were among the topics discussed in initial discourses during sorties by administration candidates for local elective positions in many Southern Moro areas.

Comelec officials in Cotabato City and Maguindanao announced over radio stations Monday that while the campaign maneuvers have started peacefully, there are politicians who have already violated regulations on display of election materials.

Lawyer Mike Ignes, Cotabato City’s election director, said they are still exhausting diplomatic means of convincing offenders to remove their campaign materials posted in “wrong spots,” which is a serious infraction of Comelec rules.

“Let’s not make the city become dirty. This is a beautiful place. Let’s post campaign materials only at designated areas,” Ignes said.

The spokesman of the mayor’s league of Maguindanao, Northern Kabuntalan Mayor Ramil Dilangalen, said the provincial chairman of the Liberal Party in the province, re-electionist Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, ordered again last Sunday all party members to avoid fiery and noisy campaign sorties which can become “irritants” to contending political camps.

“The governor has also reiterated his instruction for all LP members in the province to set examples by adhering to the Omnibus Election Code, particularly Comelec rules aimed at ensuring a peaceful and honest conduct of the May elections,” Dilangalen said.

More than 800 volunteers from Maguindanao’s cross-section communities are to monitor tightly how local members of the Liberal Party are to talk, during campaign engagements, about how they can help push the Mindanao peace process forward if elected to the local positions they are aspiring for.

The volunteers, who have just organized themselves as “Governor Esmael Mangudadatu Movers,” or GEMM, are also to help convince voters in all of the 36 towns in the province to go out and wisely exercise their right of suffrage during the May 13 election day.

Mangudadatu, in a text message, said while members of the GEMM obviously support his candidacy, it could be his efforts to keep the fragile peace now in Maguindanao, through interfaith and ecumenical dialogues among Moro, Indigenous people, and Christian sectors, that they want him to continue with a second term in office.

Members said GEMM, in fact, has two meanings — that of its purpose for this election, and as “Governance with Equality for Maguindanao Masses.”

“The second meaning has something to do with how we are to help the governor manage the province through `participatory governance’ as one way of maintaining the peace we now enjoy in our communities,” a GEMM member from Datu Odin Sinsuat town, who asked to be identified as Masna, said.

The GEMM is a brainchild of supporters of Mangudadatu, among them Iranun professionals from the first district of Maguindanao.

Engr. Madki Akbar, one of the organizers of GEMM, said their members include housewives, entrepreneurs, farmers, and even skilled workers and drivers from different towns who are against any revival of traditional politics — where politicians relied on private armies and use of guns to perpetuate power — that gripped the province for years and stunted its socio-economic growth.

Akbar said residents in the province have witnessed how peace and development have spread around the 36 towns of Maguindanao in the past three years as a result of the provincial government’s support to the on-going peace talks between Malacañang and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

“No one would want to rock the boat. It’s sailing through calmly. The members of the GEMM want the situation to continue and gain more momentum,” Akbar said.
The Liberal Party’s candidate for ARMM governor, Mujiv Hataman, said their first ever political sortie in Lamitan City was also peaceful, totally free from mudslinging and fiery speeches voters saw and heard in past campaign periods.

Hataman, who is the incumbent ARMM caretaker, and his running mate, vice-gubernatorial bet Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman, were among the candidates proclaimed, along with aspirants for various elective positions in Basilan, during LP’s regional campaign activity in Basilan.

“Our main concern now is not to have any kind of election-related trouble in the autonomous region during the campaign period, during the actual polling day, and after the proclamation of all winning candidates for various regional, provincial and municipal elections,” Hataman said.