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Now proclaimed, Mangudadatu vows to push domestic peace

 • 18:35 PM Thu May 12, 2016
John Unson
Poll officials proclaimed Wednesday night the winning candidates for provincial elective posts in Maguindanao. (JOHN UNSON)

BULUAN, Maguindanao -- Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu is keen on intensifying his domestic peace initiatives now that he has another electoral imprimatur to govern the province for three more years.The poll body proclaimed him late Wednesday, granting him entitlement to a third and last term as chief executive of a province covering 36 towns. Fostering peace and normalcy in my province will be my paramount humanitarian mission, from among many others, for three more years, Mangudadatu said.Mangudadatu, provincial chairman of the Liberal Party for Maguindanao, garnered 221,205 votes, overtaking by 80,569 votes his rival Kagui Ali Midtimbang, who only got 140,636 votes.Midtimbang aspired for Maguindanao’s gubernatorial post under the banner of the United Nationalist Alliance, whose local figurehead, Hadji Tucao Mastura, also lost in his bid for the congressional seat in the first district of Maguindanao to the newly-reelected, now third termer Rep. Sandra Sema.Also proclaimed by the provincial board of canvassers, led by Maguindanao election supervisor Muamar Guyo and provincial prosecutor Rohaira Lao, were reelected Vice Governor Lester Sinsuat and all of the eight elected provincial board members, among them the returning veteran politician Bimbo Quesada Sinsuat of the Datu Odin Sinsuat town.Board Member Sinsuat had served as regional lawmaker under the now defunct Batasang Pampook of the Marcos-era autonomous Lupong Tagapagpaganap ng Pook in Region 12 and, subsequently, as member of the 24-seat Regional Assembly of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) for nine consecutive years.The reelected vice governor defeated Dustin Mastura, the running mate of Midtimbang.Wednesday night’s proclamation rite, led by poll officials and witnessed by journalists, was done after an extensive canvassing of election returns from across the province at a function facility near the provincial government’s satellite office in Buluan town southeast of Maguindanao.The supposed canvassing site for provincial election returns was the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex at the 32-hectare ARMM compound in Cotabato City, but was transferred on Tuesday by the Commission on Elections to Buluan, the new capital of Maguindanao.Partisans identified with UNA picketed for two days at the surroundings of the Shariff Kabunsuan amphitheater in a bid to prevent Comelec’s transfer to Buluan of the canvassing activity, but dispersed late Tuesday after having been warned of criminal suit for causing alarm and inconvenience to employees of government offices nearby.The picketers even attacked and injured badly three employees of the Comelec, among them the driver of the provincial election supervisor, prompting the police and military to intervene.Mangudadatu said he is thankful to the mayors and their respective constituents for supporting his candidacy.At least 26 of Maguindanao’s 36 town mayors backed Mangudadatu’s reelection bid.Maguindanao has 634,323 registered voters but only more than half of them go out to cast vote during elections owing to mobility problems, for those in marshy areas near the 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta, and due to geographical and security constraints. I believe people in the province voted for me because of my extensive support to efforts of resolving the Mindanao Moro problem amicably, through diplomatic processes and for my administration's never ending delivery of basic services to far-flung communities scattered in the four corners of Maguindanao, Mangudadatu said.He said he is also grateful to his staunch ally, the LP stalwart ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, for patronizing his leadership of the province with sincere political mutuality.The reelectionist Hataman had earlier expressed gratitude to Mangudadatu and all mayors in Maguindanao for helping him win overwhelmingly in the province during the May 9 ARMM gubernatorial race.Hataman defeated challenger Sulu Vice Gov. Sakur Tan in Maguindanao by more than 300,000 votes. Tan, an independent candidate, garnered less than 3,000 votes in the final tally of election returns from the province.The ARMM covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, which are both in mainland Mindanao, and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.Partial tabulations by poll officials showed that as of noontime Wednesday Hataman is already leading by some 400,000 votes from the region’s five provinces, while Tan trailed so far behind with only more than 100,000 votes.Hataman told reporters, in a press conference in Cotabato City last Wednesday, his camp is optimistic he and his now upbeat running mate, the reelectionist ARMM Gov. Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman, will be proclaimed within the week.Lucman is also leading by more than 300,000 votes in the initial tally of election results for ARMM vice governor, as against the votes garnered by two other candidates, Agakhan Sharief and Haron Bandila.Hataman said he will continue helping Mangudadatu address poverty and underdevelopment in Maguindanao through massive public works interventions.Mangudadatu’s younger sibling, Khadafeh, was also proclaimed as reelected member of the ARMM law-making body earlier the same day.The younger Mangudadatu will also serve as ARMM assemblyman from June 30, 2016 to June 30, 2019, his third and last term.

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