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More peacegroups join Hataman's campaign bandwagon

 • 20:15 PM Thu May 5, 2016
John Unson

COTABATO CITY – More peace advocacy blocs have joined the campaign bandwagon of reelectionist Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, an influential group said Thursday.Abdulbasit Benito, chairperson of the Grassroots Movement for Peace and Responsible Governance, told reporters 20 more organizations helping push the Mindanao peace process forward have pledged support to Hataman’s candidacy during a caucus early this week. These groups are convinced the present ARMM governor can protect and nurture the initial dividends of the Mindanao peace process better than his rival if he remains at the helm of the regional government,” Benito said.Hataman’s bid for a second term is being challenged by the less popular Vice Gov. Sakur Tan of Sulu, a poor and troubled province, known throughout the world as haven of the Abu Sayyaf.Sulu is also a known harboring site for foreign and local captives of the group, feared for its practice of beheading kidnap victims if ransom demands are not met.Among those present to observe the recent dialogue of peace blocs supporting Hataman were reporters of the popular Cotabato City-based media outfits of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) congregation, which pioneered peace and conflict-sensitive reporting in Central Mindanao.The OMI’s spiritual figurehead in the south, Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, had earlier issued a pastoral letter urging parishioners in the Archdiocese of Cotabato to vote only for candidates who are supportive of the Mindanao peace process.He also called on voters to choose candidates who have utmost respect for the sanctity of life, based on religious principles.Quevedo, in his ministerial communiqué dispatched on Tuesday to different parishes in Central Mindanao, said while many candidates for local and national positions promise to work for peace, only a few understand the deeper intricacies and political ramifications of the Mindanao Moro problem. The phenomenal `minoritization’ of the Bangsamoro in the past 80 years in the land where they had once exercised self-determination and sovereignty is an undisputed historical record. Select a candidate who will be a just peacemaker,” Quevedo said.Two members of the OMI congregation, Jolo Vicar Benjamin de Jesus and Fr. Ben Inocencio, were killed by gunmen in Jolo, capital town of Sulu, in 1997 and in early 2000, respectively, while performing missionary works meant to propagate Muslim-Christian solidarity in the province.Benito said the peace advocacy groups now supporting Hataman decided to endorse his candidacy for his having fought for the passage of the now archived draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).The now seemingly moribund BBL was the enabling measure for the replacement of ARMM with a more politically and administratively empowered Bangsamoro political entity, in keeping with the government’s two compacts with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the 2013 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro and, subsequently, the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro. Even as the BBL failed to get through the legislative mills of Congress, Gov. Hataman continued the fight for the attainment of meaningful Moro self-governance according to the global right-to-self determination principle,” Benito said.Benito said what is fascinating for the peace advocacy groups now supporting Hataman is his readiness to relinquish his governorship of ARMM once a Bangsamoro entity is created while serving as a second-term regional governor. That is something these 20 peace groups, the latest to join us, do not see in the persona of his lone rival,” Benito said.

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