SULTAN SA BARONGIS, Maguindanao (MindaNews / 14 Oct) – After one of the suspects in the 2009 Maguindanao Massacre filed his certificate of candidacy for mayor of a Maguindanao town on Monday, a star witness to the infamous carnage also filed his candidacy on Tuesday, this time for vice mayor of a nearby town.
Sukarno “Uka” Badal, who was included as among the suspects in the massacre but turned state witness, filed his candidacy for vice mayor in Sultan sa Barongis, as running mate of mayoralty candidate Bobby Katambak, a lawyer who is currently a board member of Maguindanao’s second district.
Both are running under the ruling Liberal Party. An emotional Badal said he never thought he could come back politically after his career was ruined by his inclusion in the list of suspects in the carnage.
The Maguindanao Massacre, seen as the country’s worst election-related violence in recent history, claimed the lives of 58 persons, 32 of whom were journalists. “It was Atty. Katambak who advised and convinced me to surrender and tell all about the massacre. Now that I am back here, I want to continue serving my people,” Badal said.
Katambak told reporters that Badal’s decision to turn state witness against those behind the massacre was an indication he wants justice to prevail.
It was the reason, Katambak said, why he partnered with the state witness. “Justice for the people of Sultan sa Barongis is our battle cry. We are facing with huge challenges here – peace and order and most especially, access to education,” he added.
Sultan sa Barongis is among the five towns in Maguindanao listed by both the police and the military as “areas of immediate concern.” Badal’s former ally, Sultan sa Barongis Mayor Alidatu Angas, is seeking reelection.
Sajid Islam Ampatuan, son of former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. and among the suspects in the massacre, has filed his candidacy for mayor of Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao.
He is temporarily out on bail after posting P11-million bail bond.
Esmael Lidasan, Sultan sa Barongis election officer, has appealed to all candidates to contribute in making next year’s election as peaceful as ever by simply obeying election policies and never engage in guns, gold and goons type of political campaign.