Mangudadatu-Cojuangco tandem in ARMM polls

Posted on May 28, 2011

The Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas-Bayan (PDP-Laban) has unveiled its candidates as governor and vice-governor for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) elections in Aug. 8 while saying they will fight measures which will postpone the elections to 2013.

Aquilino "Koko" L. Pimentel III, president of PDP-Laban, formally announced the candidacy of Pakung "Pax" S. Mangudadatu as governor and Margarita "Tingting" R. Cojuangco as vice-governor for ARMM.

"With this team, we truly have an interfaith team with a Muslim and a Christian running for the highest offices in ARMM which is consistent with the policies and beliefs of PDP-Laban that interfaith memberships and interfaith dialogue is very important to address conflicts between our Muslim and Christian brothers in the South," Mr. Pimentel said in a press conference on Friday.

Besides their religious strengths, Mr. Pimentel said the tandem also brings to the table their vast political experience in the region, as Mr. Mangudadatu had served as governor for Sultan Kudarat, a predominantly Christian province in ARMM, from 1998 to 2007.

Meanwhile, he said that Ms. Cojuangco brings her experience in helping manage Tarlac, and her knowledge of indigenous cultures in ARMM, which she claimed to have picked up when she was doing her masteral and doctorate degrees.

Ms. Cojuangco said she meets the qualifications for candidacy in the ARMM, as she moved in Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao right after the May 2010 elections and she is now a registered voter in the area.

"Even before that, I lived in Tawi-Tawi in 1983 and in Maguindanao in 1988 while I was doing my research for my masteral degree," she said.

She also defended her decision to run despite being the aunt of President Benigno S.C. Aquino III, who is lobbying for the postponement of the regional polls.

"With all due respect to him [Mr. Aquino], I made my decision in consultation with my husband. I informed him that I have filed my certificate of candidacy, but even before that, I have told him that I advocate for elections now," Ms. Cojuangco said.

PDP-Laban’s endorsement of their candidates for the August 8 ARMM elections come as Malacañang puts pressure in the Senate to approve a measure which will postpone the local posts to synchronize it with the 2013 general elections, and in the meantime, appoint holdover officers to the respective provinces whose term expires in 2013.

Should the measure become enacted, Mr. Pimentel said they will question it before the Supreme Court.

"Right now we cannot say how will we question the law. We have to wait for the final form and the final reading of the law and its provisions. If they want to postpone it for just the convenience of it, then we could cite section 1, the declaration of state policies, in the Constitution, which says that the Philippines is a democratic and republican state," he said. -- Nathaniel R. Melican