Mindanao’s town mayors express support for GMA’s “integrity and honest governance”

Ms Arroyo is expected to arrive in the city at 10 a.m. and will proceed to Sirawan in Toril for the cornerstone laying of a P4-M school building funded by the Department of Education at the Sirawan Beach Elementary School.

Ms Arroyo will then proceed to the Buffet Palace along Matina corner Tulip streets, to grace the Women’s Leaders’ Forum. From there she will do an ocular inspection of the ongoing construction of the Generoso I bridge along Bangkerohan at around 1 p.m. en route to the Grand Regal Hotel along Lanang for the 1st Island Cluster Mindanao Conference of the LMP.

The conference theme is “Unity amidst diversity towards genuine peace, progress and countryside development.”

LMP Mindanao, headed by Mayor Ramon M. Abalos of Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat,  has 422 members.

Mindanao, which the President considers her second home — having spent many summers in Iligan City — has 27 provinces, 33 cities and 422 towns.

North Cotabato’s 18 town mayors have confirmed attendance, 13 of them already in the conference venue here.

The Mindanao cluster meeting was set two months ago. Invitations to the Conference were sent-out mid-January, Jaqueline Nuere, program coordinator, said.

Mayor Romulo Solivio of Surallah, South Cotabato told MindaNews in Koronadal that two months ago, the President was not considered to be the conference guest. “We were surprised President Arroyo will arrive tomorrow as guest.”

The manifesto of support for Ms Arroyo states that for an “assured, sustainable peace and development in Mindanao,”  members of LMP-Mindanao are “strongly supporting” the President.

“We firmly believe in her integrity and honest governance of our country. As a sign of our unwavering support and allegiance to her presidency, we are affirming our respective signatures,” the manifesto states.

LMP conference coordinators explained to reporters that 26  provincial chairs of the LMP will be affixing the signatures on the two-paragraph two-page manifesto, representing the mayors from their  provinces.

Asked about the 27th, the event organizers said their list contained only 26. MindaNews checked the list of signatories and the provinces they represent and noted the absence of Zamboanga Sibugay.  One of the coordinators told reporters gathered at the Philippine Information Agency regional office here that they failed to invite mayors from Zamboanga Sibugay because their list did not include the province. The two newest provinces in Mindanao are Shariff Kabunsuan, carved out of Maguindanao and Dinagat Islands, carved out of Surigao del Norte.

At least three presidential aspirants are also attending the LMP-Mindanao meeting as “guest speaker” – Senator Mar Roxas, Senator Loren Legard and Senator Richard Gordon.

Last Monday, the LMP’s National Directorate, officers and members, including some mayors from Mindanao, went to Malacang  to present to President Arroyo their Manifesto of Support. The LMP gave their “fully and unconditional support (for) and cooperation (with) the administration of President Arroyo.”

In Malacanang today, members of the League of Provinces paid a courtesy call on the President to declare their support for her, the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS).

The OPS quoted Sarangani Governor Miguel Dominguez as saying Sarangani was willing to host Malacanang as the seat of power, if people in Metro Manila do not want President Arroyo.

“We would like to remind everybody that Manila is not the Philippines. Kami po sa aming lalawigan, handing-handa to host Malacanang. Dito po sa aming lalawigan kung ayaw po ninyo sa Metro Manila kay President Arroyo,” the OPS quoted Dominguez as saying.

He urged senators who live in Manila to also go around the country, to come to Mindanao, “to get the sense of progress, to get the sense of optimism na fully evident iyong development lalong-lalo na sa mga probinsya,” he said. (MindaNews)