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Mangudadatu camp certain of his election to 3rd term on May 9

 • 22:58 PM Wed May 4, 2016
John Unson
Photoand Political allies Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and Senate President Franklin Drilon were together in a recent Liberal Party sortie in Maguindanao. JOHN UNSON

BULUAN, Maguindanao --- Local officials are optimistic of a peaceful May 9 elections in Maguindanao and a clean sweep by reelectionist Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu of the gubernatorial race in the province.At least 28 of Maguindanao’s 36 mayors are members of the Liberal Party, whose provincial chapter chairman is Mangudadatu, now aspiring for a third and last term. We are sure of his convenient victory on Monday,” said Ramil Dilangalen, appointed deputy governor of Maguindanao said on Wednesday.Senior Local executives in Maguindanao’s Iranon-dominated towns in the first district of the province, among them Mayors KitzGuru and Ibrahim Ibay of Matanog and Parang towns, respectively, said they are both sure of Mangudadatu’s reelection owing to LP’s extensive influence over barangay chairmen in the province.Mangudadatu, first elected to office in 2010, after he lost his wife and several relatives in the now infamous Nov. 23, 2009 Maguindanao Massacre,” is pitted against Kagui Ali Midtimbang of Talayan town in the second district of the province.The running mate of Midtimbang is vice gubernatorial candidate Dustin Mastura, who lost in his bid for a seat in the 24-member Regional Assembly of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao during the May 13, 2013 elections.Midtimbang and Mastura are both official candidates of the United Nationalist Alliance, whose provincial chairman is Datu Tucao Mastura, a scion of big clan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.Datu Tucao was defeated by Mangudadatu with an overwhelming vote lead during the 2013 gubernatorial race in the province.Mangudadatu on Wednesday said his rivals have ran out of issue to hurl on him that they unduly accuse him now of being insincere in his support to the government’s peace overture with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). That is so whimsical and preposterous. My actions will speak for me louder than the words I can utter to prove how I so value the Mindanao peace process, having witnessed so many armed conflicts since I was a child,” Mangudadatu told reporters.He said all of some 40 local clan wars he had settled in the past six years were initiated with the help of local MILF commanders. Some of these clan wars even involved members of the MILF in far-flung areas. We settled them amicably in support of the normalization agenda of the government and the MILF,” Mangudadatu said.He said about half of the almost 6,000 college scholars of the Maguindanao Program for Education and Community Empowerment (MagPEACE), which is being bankrolled by his office, are either children or relatives of MILF guerillas.Lynette Estandarte, provincial budget officer and supervisor of the Maguindanao emergency response team, said a big number of the thousands of sick villagers they provided with free medical services from 2013 to March this year are residing in barangays where there are MILF enclaves.Mangudadatu said all of his domestic peace initiatives, as governor of Maguindanao and as chairman of the provincial peace and order council (PPOC), are also coordinated closely with the MILF leadership.Meanwhile, Mangudadatu said he is thankful to the police and the military for supporting the efforts of the Commission on Elections to have peaceful and orderly elections on May 9 in Maguindanao. We are confident we shall have orderly and calm conduct of voting in our province,” he said.The Army’s 603rdBrigade, a component unit of the 6thInfantry Division, which has jurisdiction over all of Maguindanao’s 36 towns, are now helping guard the surroundings of at least seven schools in Sultan Mastura and Sultan Kudarat towns which gunmen bombed one after another in a series of attacks last week.

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