MILF chair to candidates: “you can come and talk to our people”

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DARAPANAN, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao  (MindaNews/29 April) — The chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said candidates running for elective posts on May 13 “can come and talk to our people” but  the MILF stand has not changed: “we will not participate … but we will not prevent people to participate.”

“If they want to vote, they can vote,” MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim told a press conference at the launching Monday noon of the Facility for Advisory Support for Transition Capacities (FASTRAC), a three-year program in partnership with the United Nations and the World Bank.

Along the three-kilometer stretch from the highway  to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s main gate, posters of candidates lined the roadside, many of them posted on coconut trunks.

There were no posters of national candidates (for senators),  just regional  (for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or ARMM)  and local (for Maguindanao).

Most of the posters were from the team of Datu Tucao Mastura and Ali Midtimbang, candidates of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) for governor and vice governor of Maguindanao, and Mastura’s nephew, Vice Governor Ismael Mastura who is now running for ARMM Assemblyman.

Mastura-Midtimbang posters dominate on the road to the MILF's Camp Darapanan. MindaNews photo by Carolyn O. Arguillas
Mastura-Midtimbang posters dominate on the road to the MILF’s Camp Darapanan. MindaNews photo by Carolyn O. Arguillas

The elder Mastura is mayor of Sultan Kudarat town where the MILF camp is based, Midtimbang is former Talayan mayor

Mayor Mastura is a brother of  MILF senior peace panel member Michael Mastura, father of Ismael.

Posters of  ARMM gubernatorial bet Pax Mangudadatu and his running mate Bashier Dimalaang  Manalao were also visible.

Mangudadatu, former governor of Sultan Kudarat province, is an uncle of incumbent Maguindanao governor Esmael Mangudadatu of the Liberal Party while Manalao is former governor of Lanao del Sur.

A few posters of  the first district congressional candidates – reelectionist Bai Sandra Sema (Liberal Party) and Baisendig Dilangalen (Ind), were also seen. Russman Sinsuat, Jr. who is running for provincial board member under the Liberal Party also had some campaign materials.

There were no posters of reelectionist governor  Mangudadatu and the ruling party’s candidate for ARMM governor, Mujiv Hataman and his running mate, Al-rashid Lucman although Hataman has reportedly been endorsed by both Mastura and Esmael Mangudadatu.

Both candidates for Maguindanao governor have repeatedly committed their support to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro  which the government and MILF peace panels signed on October 15, 2012.

“The MILF has not changed its official policy of non-involvement in the ongoing electoral process,” Murad said, adding this has been “the policy of the MILF since the very beginning.”

“We will not participate in the electoral process but then we will not also prevent the people to participate.”

Murad clarified that ‘it is only the MILF officials who are prevented from participating (in the elections).

“Now at this point in time you’d notice that when you enter Camp Darapanan, you will notice there are so many posters of candidates (along) the route. This is not a violation of the policy. We do not see it as a violation of the policy. We do not see also as a violation of the policy for candidates to come and talk to our people because as I have said, we are not preventing them. If they want to vote, they can vote. Only some officers are prevented from voting,” Murad said.

He acknowledged that there are candidates “coming to Darapanan to talk to our people”  but did not name them. But he reiterated that the MILF’s policy on the elections has not changed. “The policy remains as is,” he said.

When a reporter asked if it is true that the MILF would hold a “proclamation rally” in Shariff Aguak town on May 5, allegedly to announce the candidates they would support, Murad replied there is no such rally.

“That is not true. There is no proclamation rally of the MILF because we are not participating in the elections. So there is no truth to the information that there will be a proclamation rally on May 5. We are not a party to that. The MILF is not a party to that,” he said .

Asked if there was an MILF activity in Shariff Aguak on May 5, Murad replied their provincial committee may have “but it is not related to the political exercise.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

 

 

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