2 Central Mindanao top politicians complain of ‘political persecution’ PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 07 February 2011 13:55

COTABATO CITY — The supposed August gubernatorial election in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao are still too far away, but two influential Moro datus are now complaining of “political persecution” which they both believe are meant to ease them out of the foray.

The latest to gripe was Cotabato City’s vice mayor, Muslimin Sema, chairman of the most dominant of two factions in the Moro National Liberation Front, who was implicated by the police in the January 8 kidnapping here of 54-year-old businessman Adin Yu.

Worse, according to Sema, the city prosecutor, Wilfred Buyco, filed a kidnapping case against him before the Regional Trial Court Branch 15 here without the benefit of a preliminary investigation or even just the mandatory submission first of his counter-affidavit as basis for Buyco’s evaluation if there is probable cause to endorse the case to the court for litigation.

“I’m convinced this, partly, is political persecution. Some groups may be grooming me to become their candidate for ARMM governor if the elections push through in August but I have never said I will accede to their wish. I’m not running for governor of the autonomous region,” Sema said.

Sema and his wife, Bai Sandra, an incumbent congresswoman in the first district of Maguindanao, are both known to have powerful political rivals belonging to big Moro clans.

Local peace advocacy outfits are apprehensive the tension between Sema and his political rivals could escalate now that he and his followers have raised suspicions they could be behind his having been implicated in Yu’s abduction.

Yu, owner of the city’s oldest hardware store, was snatched January 8 at the parking area of a casino inside a plush hotel here. His family has still been negotiating for his release.

The president of the influential Cotabato City Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chua Yu Beng, said they sympathize with Sema and is convinced that he has nothing to do with the abduction of Yu.

“We know him since he was a student. We are convinced is not involved in the kidnapping of a member of our community,” Chua told Catholic station dxMS here yesterday.

Sema said he is the second MNLF leader to be unduly implicated in a kidnapping case in recent years.

“My comrade, former Mayor Isnaji Alvarez of Indanan, Sulu, was implicated in the kidnapping of ABS-CBN anchor Ces Drilon in 2008, while he was aspiring to become governor of ARMM under the banner of the MNLF during the region’s August elections then. He was released later due to lack of evidence linking him to such crime,” Sema said.

Chief Supt. Gil Mineses, director of the Region 12 police, said also charged along the vice mayor here were his key followers, retired Senior Supt. Ismael Daulog, Mayor Salaban Diocolano of Kabuntalan, Maguindanao, and Sukarno Sema, who is an incumbent Cotabato City councilor.

The provincial chairman of the Liberal Party for Maguindanao, Mayor Tucao Mastura of the vote-rich Sultan Kudarat town, earlier griped on his having been recently implicated, along with his nephew, Datu Dustin, who is the vice governor of Maguindanao, in the murder in Davao City in November last year of their common political adversary, Vice Mayor Alex Tomawis of Barira town in the same province.

Certain Moro political factions in Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur endorsed Mastura as their  favored bet for ARMM governor prior to his having been tagged by a special task force, led by the central office of the Department of Interior and Local Government, as   one of the brains behind the murder of Tomawis.

“I cannot be involved in the murder of Vice Mayor Tomawis because I was in Mecca, Saudi Arabia at the time he was killed in Davao City performing the Hajj (pilgrimage),” Mastura said.

Both Mastura and Sema said they are just as ready to have themselves litigated in court for them to clarify their innocence on the charges filed against them. — Felix Ostrea