Mindanawons in Congress: 67 in the House, two in the Senate

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/23 June) –  Bayan Muna’s Carlos Isagani Zarate, a journalist before he became a lawyer in 1995 is one of at least 67 Mindanawons in the House of Representatives.

In the 24-member Senate, the number of Mindanawons remains at two — Teofisto Guingona III and Aquilino Pimentel III.

The 46-year Zarate, who took his oath of office before Judge Virginia Hofilena-Europa on Friday afternoon at the Garden Oases Convention Center, joins seven other party-list representatives who are Mindanawons and 59 others who are representing their congressional districts.

“Bayan Muna shall stand astride with the people, inside and outside the (House of Representatives) to push for decent living wages across the board, for gainful employment and social security, for human rughts and social equity, and for genuine national development thru land reform and national industrialization,” Zarate said.

He also said he would “take seriously my role as a voice for the people of Mindanao.”

Zarate assured that Bayan Muna “will push for the rationalization of resource allocation that shall benefit Mindanao given our share in national development and based on the fact that we have the poorest towns, provinces and regions” and for “decisive protection for ancestral domains and indigenous people’s rights as well as push for equity and genuine pro-people mechanisms to promote the right to self determination of the Bangsamoro people.”

59 district reps; 8 party-list reps

In the 16th Congress that will open on July 22, Mindanao will have 59 congressional district representatives  (with the addition of two more since the 15th Congress: the fourth district of Bukidnon and the third district of North Cotabato) and eight party-list representatives:

Mariano Piamonte of  Padada, Davao del Sur who represents A Teacher (Advocacy For Teacher Empowerment Through Action Cooperation And Harmony Towards Educational Reforms); Maximo Rodriguez, Jr. of Cagayan de Oro City who represents Abante Mindanao, Inc. (Abamin);  Sitti Djalia A. Turabin-Hataman of Basilan, representing Anak Mindanao (AMin);  Carlos Isagani T. Zarate  of  General Santos City but has been based in Davao City since the late 1980s, representing Bayan Muna,  Luz Ilagan of Davao City who has been representing Gabriela Women’s Party since 2007;  Cresente Paez of Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte, who has been representing the Cooperative-National Confederation of Cooperatives (COOP-NATCO) since 2007; former Justice Secretary Silvestre Bello III of the party-list 1-BAP (1 Banat and Ahapo Party-List Coalition); and Edgardo Masongsong of 1CARE (1st Consumers Alliance For Rural Energy, Inc);

Piamonte  founded the St. Michael’s College in Padada, Davao del Sur and was former executive director of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines.

Rodriguez, according to the Abamin website, is president of Abamin. He worked previously at the National Police Commission, Bureau of Immigration and Bureau of Customs and before becoming party-list representative, worked at the Congressional Office of his brother Rufus,who was elected to a third term as representative of the second district of Cagayan de Oro City.

Sitti Djalia A. Turabin-Hataman founded Pinay Kilos (PinK), an organization based in Zamboanga City that focuses on peace, health, and women’s rights in the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi and Zamboanga Sibugay. She is the wife of  OIC ARMM Governor, now Governor-elect, Mujiv Hataman.

Luz Ilagan of Davao City, a former professor at the Ateneo de Davao University, has been representing Gabriela Women’s Party since 2007. She will be representing Gabriela again for a third term in the 16th Congress.

Bello’s rise to national prominence began in Davao City during the fight against the Marcos dictatorship, after the assassination of President Aquino’s father, Ninoy in 1983.  After the Marcoses were ousted in February 1986, he was named Justice Undersecretary and later as Justice Secretary. He also served as peace panel chair in the negotiations with the National Democratic Front.

Masongsong was former manager of the Bukidnon Second Electric Cooperative.

Previous party-list reps

It is Zarate’s first term as Bayan Muna Representative but it is the second time a Mindanawon is representing Bayan Muna.  Joel Virador of Kidapawan and Davao cities served as Bayan Muna Rep.  in the 12th and 13th Congress – from 2003 to 2004 and 2004 to 2007.

Joel Maglungsod is another Mindanawon party-list member who represented Anakpawis party-list in the 14h Congress, from 2009 to 2010.

Patricia Sarenas of Davao City was the first and only Mindanawon party-list representative in the 11th Congress, representing Abanse Pinay, from 1998 to 2001 and in the 12th Congress from 2003 to 2004.

In the 15th Congress, there were 66 representatives from Mindanao, 57 of them district and nine party-list representatives: Ilagan, Paez, Piamonte, Rodriguez; former Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, representing AA Kasosyo;  Acmad Tomawis of Ang Laban ng Indiginong Filipino (ALIF); Angelo Palmones of AGHAM; Carol Jayne Lopez of You Against Corruption and Poverty (YACAP),  and Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao of Akbayan, who was elected last month to represent the lone district of Dinagat Islands province.

16th Congress

Of the 59 district representatives, two will be serving their sixth term in the 16th Congress: Davao Oriental’s Thelma Almario and Zamboanga Sibugay’s Belma Cabilao.  Lanao del Norte’s Abdullah Dimaporo will be serving a fifth term while Davao del Sur’s Franklin Bautista will be serving his fourth.

The law allows local officials three consecutive terms or a total of nine years. What a number of politicians do is run for another elective post when they “graduate” and return to the legislative for yet another three terms.

Nineteen will be serving their third term: Bukidnon’s Jose Ma. Zubiri III, Compostela Valley’s Ma. Carmen Zamora-Apsay and Rommel Amatong. Davao del Norte’s Antonio Rafael del Rosario and Antonio Lagdameo; Davao Oriental’s Nelson Dayanghirang; Lanao del Sur’s Pangalian Balindong; Maguindanao’s Bai Sandra Sema; Sultan Kudarat’s Arnulfo Go; Surigao del Sur’s Philip Pichay and Florencio Garay; Surigao del Norte’s  Francisco Matugas; Zamboanga del Norte’s district Rep. Rosendo Labadlabad; Zamboanga del Sur’s Victor Yu; Cagayan de Oro City’s Rufus Rodriguez; Davao City’s Karlo Alexei Nograles, Mylene Garcia and Isidro Ungab.

Nineteen were elected to a second term: the Plaza sisters of Agusan del Sur – Ma. Valentina Plaza-Galido and Evelyn Plaza-Mellana; Basilan’s Hadjiman Sabbihi Hataman-Salliman; Bukidnon’s Florencio Garay; Lanao del Norte’s Imelda Dimaporo; Misamis Occidental’s Jorge Almonte; Misamis Oriental’s Peter Unabia; North Cotabato’s Jesus Sacdalan and Nancy Catamco; Sarangani’s Emmanuel Pacquiao; South Cotabato’s Pedro Acharon; Sultan Kudarat’s Raden Sakaluran; Sulu’s Tupay Loong; Surigao del Norte’s Guillermo Romarate; Zamboanga del Norte’s Seth Pal Jalosjos; Zamboanga del Sur’s Aurora Cerilles; Zamboanga Sibugay’s Ann Hofer; Cagayan de Oro City’s Klarex Uy; and Iligan City’s Vicente Belmonte;

Seventeen will be serving their first term as legislators are: Agusan del Norte’s Lawrence Fortun and Erlpe John Amante; Bukidnon’s Malou Acosta and Oneil Roque; Camiguin’s Xavier Jesus Romualdo; Davao del Sur’s Mercedes Cagas;  Dinagat Islands’ Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao (represented Akbayan in 15th Congress); Lanao del Sur’s Ansaruddin Adiong; Maguindanao’s Zajid Mangudadatu; Misamis Occidental’s Henry Oaminal; Misamis Oriental’s Juliette Uy; North Cotabato’s Pingping Tejada; South Cotabato’s Ferdinand Hernandez; Sulu’s Maryam Arbison; Tawi-tawi’s Ruby Sahali; Zamboanga del Norte’s Isagani Amatong; and Zamboanga City’s Lilia Nuño.  (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)