COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/03 October) – Allies have now become close rivals for the governorship of Maguindanao province.
Sultan Kudarat town Mayor Datu Tucao Mastura on Monday filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) challenging incumbent Gov. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu for the province’s top post.
Donning yellow and red shirts and bringing balloons, hundreds of vehicles coming from Cotabato’s southern and northern ends flooded the city streets to show support for Mastura, provincial chair of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
Mastura’s running mate is Talayan Mayor Datu Ali Midtimbang, a member of a known political clan in the second district of the province and father-in-law of former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor Datu Zaldy Ampatuan.
A kulintang ensemble played traditional music as UNA’s convoy entered the provincial Comelec office here.
Mastura stepped out of his pickup truck which trailed an Army tank, a security measure arranged with the military, and waved to his waiting supporters.
His nephew, Vice Gov. Ismael “Dustin” Mastura, who agreed to slide down and run as board member, accompanied his uncle.
Also present was Merinisa Datumanong-Saliman, daughter of third term 2nd district Rep. Simeon Datumanong who is aspiring to succeed his father.
Mastura is expected to get the support of the Ampatuan, Matalam and Midtimbang clans.
In a short briefing with the media after handing his COC to Atty. Udtog Tago of the Comelec provincial office, Mastura appealed for a peaceful conduct of the elections.
But he warned that cheating might be done through the clustering of barangays.
“I’m here in the Comelec at ina-address ko po sa kanila ito, na experience ko po ang clustering,yun po ang mga bagong paraan ng dayaan, yung mga incumbent kina-cluster minsan ang mga barangay malapit doon sa controlled areas. Dapat hindi ito maaply sa mga barangay na may rido, so marami ang hindi makaboto”, Mastura said.
Mangudadatu’s challenger added he was taken aback by the statement of provincial police commander Senior Superintendent Jaime Pido that Sultan Kudarat and Sultan Mastura towns are among the 11 hotly contested areas in the province.
“I’m addressing this to the good commander no, dapat po bago kayo magbigay ng press release, dapat po tingnan muna ninyo, ginawang hotly contested ang Sultan kudarat at Sultan mastura, I’ve been there for long years na walang gulo sa pulitika”, he said.
The Masturas and Mangudadatus joined forces in the 2010 elections to dislodge the Ampatuan clan from power whose leading members are in prison as principal suspects in the November 23, 2009 massacre in Ampatuan town that killed 58 people. (Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)