Hataman’s rival ‘no show’ in public forum event PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 05 May 2013 14:27

The closest rival of Mujiv Hataman for the gubernatorial post of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao balked from participating in the public forum “Harapan” for candidates for regional positions in Cotabato City on Thursday.

Only Hataman, who is ARMM’s acting governor and an LP stalwart, and another rival, Aisha Prudencio, participated in the event, organized by the Citizens Coalition for ARMM Electoral Reforms.

Hataman’s running mate, lawyer Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman, was also the lone forum participant to the Harapan, from among five candidates for the ARMM’s second highest elective post.

Harapan was the first public forum for regional candidates held in ARMM in its 23-year existence. The forum was held at the Al-Nor Commercial Complex at the Rosary Heights district of Cotabato City.

Participants had expected the attendance of Pax Mangudadatu, former governor of Sultan Kudarat, a province outside of the autonomous region.

Organizers said Manggudadatu confirmed his attendance, but did not show up at the last hour.

To qualify for his candidacy for ARMM governor, Mangudadatu registered recently as voter in Buluan town in Maguindanao. He declared himself a farmer there.

While Mangudadatu is an uncle of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, a party mate of Hataman, the provincial governor supports the Hataman-Lucman tandem.

Many participants to the Harapan were convinced the older Mangudadatu balked from attending the event owing to the possibility he could be quizzed on his actual residency and on why his home-province, Sultan Kudarat, voted against the expansion of ARMM in a plebiscite just several years ago, which resulted to the inclusion of Basilan and the cities of Lamitan and Marawi to the present autonomous region.

“He (Mangudadatu) and his family in Sultan Kudarat province were in power then and they are until now. They allowed the ‘no vote’ to triumph in their province during that plebiscite and now he wants to become governor of ARMM? Isn’t that hyperbole in reverse? What a change of heart,” said Ustadz Amerodin Mansur, a Maranaw preacher.

Hataman and Prudencio took turns answering questions on their planned programs, including their support to the Mindanao peace process.

Hataman said if elected, he would focus his attention to help in the conversion of ARMM into a new Bangsamoro self-governing outfit as agreed upon by the peace panels of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Hataman reiterated his promise that if elected he will vacate his post by 2015, if the transition process would require so, even if his elective tenure is to last until June 30, 2016.

Prudencio, on the other hand, also assured voters that she would support the GPH-MILF peace efforts.

Lucman, an ethnic Maranaw, explained how he intends to address key concerns besetting the ARMM’s Moro, Christian and lumad communities if he is elected.

Lucman’s closest rival and province-mate former Lanao del Sur Gov. Bashier Manalao, was also absent in the forum.

Lucman said his rivals’ failure to speak at the Harapan forum was a “minus factor” for their candidacy.

“Ako lang and dumating. The organizers should make a strong statement against being absent from such kind of forum. It is where people get to know candidates better. It is a venue for them to show to the public what they have in mind to improve the lives of people in the ARMM,” Lucman told reporters.