Hataman sees ‘less’ political violence in ARMM

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/13 June) — Political violence in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is seen “to go down” in the 2013 midterm polls, acting Regional Governor Mujiv S. Hataman said on Wednesday.

Hataman set the ground running “towards a peaceful election” in the impoverished Muslim region last week by reconciling with a rival political family through a covenant.


“The reign of the warlords is gone. This is such a big leap at ending political violence in the ARMM,” Hataman said in a statement.


An appointee of President Benigno S. Aquino III, dismantling private armies in the ARMM, infamous for past election cheatings, is one of the key priorities of Hataman since he assumed office in December.


ARMM’s Maguindanao province had figured prominently in alleged election cheatings, particularly during the rule of former Gov. Andal S. Ampatuan, Sr.


Ampatuan is now languishing in jail, along with several family members, for allegedly masterminding the gruesome massacre of 58 people in the town of Ampatuan on November 23, 2009.


The victims included media workers and family members of now Maguindanao Gov. Esmael G. Mangudadatu, who was vice mayor of Buluan town at the time.


During Hataman’s 100-day report delivered last April, armed bodyguards of politicians attending the event were barred from entering the regional government compound in Cotabato City.


Last week, Hataman reconciled with the family of the late Basilan Rep. Wahab Akbar, represented by his widow and Basilan Gov. Jum Akbar.


Ms Akbar said in the same statement that time heals and it took time to realize that both parties had wrongly accused each other of misdeeds, particularly by her family against the Hatamans on the killing of her husband in a bomb attack in the House of Representatives in November 2007


By signing the historic covenant, the Hatamans and the Akbars forged an alliance between their families, political allies and supporters “to maintain peace and order in the province and for the development and progress of its people.”


The Aquino administration backed the reconciliation of the two rival families in Basilan, with Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo and Peace Process Secretary Teresita Quintos Deles witnessing the event.


Robredo said the government would see to it that the covenant was followed.


Top officials in the ARMM and members of the Regional Legislative Assembly also attended the affair.


“It was not an easy decision for me and my children but we knew we had to act on this offer, an opportunity to forge peace between our families once and for all,” Ms Akbar said last week.


The negotiation started six months ago when Hataman sent emissaries from the Basilan Ulama Supreme Council led by Dr. Aboulkhair Tarason, to talk to the Akbars for a possible reconciliation.


Aquino reportedly met the parties and expressed his desire for them to end their longstanding differences. After a series of consultations, the two families agreed to come to terms and signed the peace covenant.


Hataman said that politics and personal interests should be sacrificed to give way to the interests not only of the people but the Muslims in general “who are seen as incapable of leading.”


He added that he cannot fully implement necessary reforms in the region especially on peace and security if he cannot even solve conflicts in Basilan involving his own family.


The “peace agreement” between the two families includes the provision that any members of the Hataman family will not oppose the gubernatorial candidacy of Jum Akbar in the coming May 2013 polls. Similarly, the Akbars will not contest Hadjimin Hataman- Saliman’s bid for the congressional post.


Both families also agreed to not do anything that will endanger the life and property and destroy the reputation of the other family. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)