COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/19 August)—Vice President Jejomar Binay has expressed support to the creation of the Bangsamoro government during a two-day swing in Maguindanao province and in this city.
Heavily guarded by the police and the military and backed up by an aerial security reconnaissance, Binay denied his visits here and to various towns in Maguindanao were part of the early campaign trail for his presidential bid in 2016.
Vice President Jejomar Binay (center) graces the 67th foundation anniversary of Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao on Monday, 18 August 2014. Joining him on stage are (left to right) Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian, Mayor Shameem Mastura ARMM governor Mujiv Hataman, and UNA provincial Chair Datu Tucao Mastura. MindaNews photo by Ferdinandh Cabrera
Both local opposition and administration political leaders warmly welcomed Binay during his visit on Sunday and Monday.
Binay expressed his support to the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) on Monday in Sultan Kudarat town as it celebrated its 67th foundation anniversary.
Once passed by Congress and ratified by the constituents, the BBL will entrench the Bangsamoro government to replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The creation of the Bangsamoro government was envisioned by the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the final peace agreement of the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed last March 27.
Binay chanted Takbir thrice in expressing support to the passage of the BBL, which the crowd exuberantly responded with “Allahu Akbar” (God is the greatest).
Datu Tucao Mastura, former Sultan Kudarat town mayor and the provincial stalwart of the United Nationalist Alliance, Binay’s political party, lauded the vice president’s support to the BBL.
It is an “expression of giving importance to the dream of the Bangsamoro people,” Mastura said.
Also in attendance during Sultan Kudarat town’s foundation anniversary were ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, 6th Infantry Division commander Brig. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, top ARMM police officials, and several local government officials of the province.
‘Not an early campaign trail’
In Datu Odin Sinsuat town on Sunday, Maguindanao Vice Governor Datu Lester Sinsuat, a Liberal Party stalwart, introduced Binay as “the next President of the Republic of the Philippines.”
Binay thanked him for the “endorsement,” and later “denied that he was in the province to campaign early for his 2016 presidential bid.”
He said he was in the province “to visit projects and to attend to invitations.”
Binay led the launching of a new senior citizens’ building his office funded for P500,000 and distributed wheelchairs to differently-abled persons during his visit in Datu Odin Sinsuat.
Binay was joined by former Tarlac Governor Margarita “Ting-Ting” Cojuangco, Paranaque Rep. Gustavo Tambunting and Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian in his trips.
He and his party also visited the Mindanao State University, also in Datu Odin Sinsuat.
In Cotabato City, Binay met with local officials and leaders of the Archdiocese of Cotabato, attended mass, and had dinner with his Alpha Phi Omega fraternity brothers and sisters.
Binay and his party also visited on Monday Datu Abdullah Sangki town, which also celebrated its foundation anniversary, on the invitation of Mayor Mariam Mangudadatu.
Noticeably, Binay’s entourage was wearing all along T-shirts printed with the word “Binay.” (Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)