CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/21 July) – Feeling alluded to earlier references by Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr. that the kidnapping of Nuraldin Yusoph, son of election commissioner Elias Yusoph, was the handiwork of losing politicians in Lanao del Sur, congressional candidate Salic Dumarpa said that such claims are unfounded and politically motivated.
The first district congressional seat in Lanao de Sur is now being contested by Dumarpa and Hussein Pangandaman, an Adiong ally. “Technically, I cannot be considered as a ‘talunang politico’ as there is no clear winner yet in the first district,” Dumarpa said in a press statement.
Special elections in 12 barangays in the first district of Lanao de Sur has yet to be conducted.
“Clearly, the ‘talunang mga politico’ referred to by Adiong are congressional candidates (Benasing Jr.) Macarambon for the 2nd District and Salic Dumarpa for the 1st District, gubernatorial candidate (Ali) Solitario and vice-gubernatorial candidate (Ameroddin) Sarangani,” Dumarpa’s statement said.
Dumarpa particularly reacted sharply to the “talunang mga politico” accusation, describing it as “unfounded and politically motivated.” For Dumarpa, Adiong’s accusation was intended to enhance the chance of the governor’s ally, referring to Pangandaman, in winning the congressional seat.
According to the GMAnews.tv website which published unofficial and partial election results with 90.26 percent of election returns counted, Dumarpa leads with 71,007 votes over the 66,038 partial and unofficial votes for Pangandaman.
Adiong told reporters in the press conferences following Nuraldin’s release that they will pursue the filing of cases against the suspects of the kidnapping. He however did not name the suspects.
Mindanao Development Authority chairperson Jesus Dureza said that it may take some time to build up the cases but said that justice has to be pursued.
Brig. Gen. Rey C. Ardo, commander of the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade based in Camp Ranao in Marawi City, said that the long arm of the law should be upheld this time.
“Alam ng lahat na away ito ng mga Maranao, while we do respect their customary processes, dapat matapos na yung mga kidnappings in Lanao del Sur. We should no longer tolerate the act of kidnapping every time powerful families in the province have grievances against each other,” Ardo said.
Maintaining law and order in the province, long whacked by lawlessness and the armed rebellion of the Bangsamoro people, is expensive and draining precious resources of the government.
Ardo said that he would no longer want that the parties to a criminal conflict in the province would just talk it out among themselves and resolve among themselves the problems. “Dapat the rule of law should prevail,” he added.
Asked if the prosecution of the Nuraldin kidnapping will succeed this time, Ardo said that it can only be successful if all parties cooperate.
He however did not hide his displeasure over the scarcity of Commissioner Elias Yusoph throughout the 29-day kidnapping of the young Nuraldin, a 22-year-old Muslim religious scholar.
“Daldal ng daldal lang sa Manila, including making irresponsible calls for the declaration of Martial Law in Lanao del Sur, hindi naman nagpapakita at tumulong dito,” Ardo said.
Observers of Lanao del Sur and Marawi politics say that the kidnapping of Nuraldin may be due to “election operations,” as election cheating has been called, that may involve top Comelec officials and millions of pesos changing hands.
Among the modus operandi of said operations is the way the voting or polling centers are clustered and placed which could result in disenfranchisement of voters. (BenCyrus G. Ellorin / MindaNews)