Pax Mangudadatu to run for ARMM governor

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/18 January) – Administration ally and former Sultan Kudarat Rep. Datu Pax Mangudadatu confirmed Tuesday his intention to seek the gubernatorial seat of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) if the regional elections would push through as scheduled in August.
Mangudadatu, who withdrew his bid for reelection as representative of Sultan Kudarat’s first congressional district in the May 2010 elections, said he decided to seek ARMM’s top post to help bring “real development” to the poverty-stricken region.
“They’ve (ARMM residents) suffered long enough. It’s time for the region to experience the progress and development it deserves, given its vast resources that remain largely untapped,” he said in an interview with a local television station.
Mangudadatu, who supported President Benigno Simeon Aquino III in last year’s polls, originally hails from Buluan town in Maguindanao but later settled in the neighboring Lutayan town of Sultan Kudarat. He is an uncle of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu,
Mangudadatu served as mayor of Lutayan for several years before becoming the first Moro governor of the Christian-dominated province in 1998.
He held the post for nine years or three consecutive terms before winning the province’s first congressional district seat in 2007.
Mangudadatu’s son Suharto is currently on his second term as Sultan Kudarat governor while his son-in-law Raden Sakaluran took over his congressional seat. His daughter Ruth Mangudadatu-Sakaluran is on her second term as mayor of Lutayan.
Mangudadatu said he intends to replicate the progress and development gained by Sultan Kudarat province during the past decade to various parts of ARMM once he is elected its governor.
“We’ll bring in a kind of leadership that places the welfare of the people as top priority,” he said.
During his term as Sultan Kudarat governor, the province experienced a major infrastructure buildup that resulted to the development and opening of new roads and the concreting of its major road networks, construction of a multimillion provincial capitol complex and upgrading of its provincial hospital.
He launched a massive animal dispersal program to promote livelihood and acquired a modern mobile hospital to attend to the health needs of residents in the province’s remote areas.
At the House of Representatives, Mangudadatu authored the law that finally elevated early last year the five campus-Sultan Kudarat Polytechnic State College to full university status.
Malacanang has been pushing for the postponement of the upcoming ARMM elections and its synchronization instead with the national polls in 2013 due to financial considerations.
But the Commission on Elections continued with its preparations for the regional polls pending the passage of a law that would pave the way for its postponement. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)