Korina courts Maguindanao votes for Mar

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 12 Aug) – While presidential aspirant Mar Roxas was busy meeting up with congressmen from the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) to convince them to support his candidacy, his wife, TV anchor Korina Sanchez, was courting votes in Maguindanao.

“Napag-utusan lang. An abrupt text from my husband that a supportive wife has to follow the request of his loved one,” said Sanchez, who represented Roxas as guest speaker on Tuesday during the third anniversary and grand assembly of the Alliance of Lumad, Iranun and Maguindanaon (ALIM), the province’s most dominant political alliance thus far.

When asked on how her husband could win the Muslim votes, she did not directly answer how Roxas could win back the hearts of Bangsamoro, especially those sympathetic to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). They apparently have not forgotten the former chief of the Department of the Interior and Local Government to have led the opposition to the botched Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) and thus tagged him as an anti-Muslim official.

Sanchez said that her husband’s political decisions are all his own. “I do not interfere. What I know, Mar loves Mindanaons,” she added.

She lashed at critics who said that Roxas lacks mass appeal, noting that her husband could not have garnered 14 million votes in the last elections if he is not loved by the masses. Roxas, although planned to run for presidency in 2010, gave way for Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III’s candidacy, serving as the latter’s running mate instead.

After a brief meeting with the media and breakfast with Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Mujiv Hataman and Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, Sanchez met the hundreds of attendees of the political assembly of ALIM at the Shariff Kabungsuan Complex inside the ARMM compound. She told the crowd that Roxas is the best man to continue and nurture the “Daang matuwid” started by his protégé. President Aquino has officially endorsed Roxas as his successor.

While Maguindanao Vice Governor Datu Lester Sinsuat, who is also ALIM president and founding chairman, has assured Vice President Jejomar Binay of his support in the latter’s presidential bid during his visit in the municipality of Datu Odin Sinsuat to distribute wheelchairs, Gov. Mangudadatu said things have changed after the consensus of Liberal Party allies in Maguindanao and the commitment of ALIM members.

Mangudadatu said they will try their best to bring 300,000 or more votes for Mar Roxas with the slogan of continuing the “Daang matuwid” with the ALIM.

The governor said they trust Roxas because he is the one endorsed by President Aquino.

Mangudadatu said that in their last meeting in Davao City, he personally confronted Roxas on his stand on the BBL. Roxas reportedly assured Mangudadatu he is supporting the BBL.

Mangudadatu said the fruits of President Aquino’s “Daang matuwid” program will only be felt six years after the leadership that introduced it, as was the case in Malaysia and other countries. “That is why we need someone to continue the efforts we started,” he stressed.

Hataman also said that 95 percent of the elected officials in the ARMM are Liberal Party members. What they need, he pointed out, is only to consolidate the votes with the help of local allies.

ALIM started with seven town mayors three years ago; it now has 17 mayors under its umbrella. Maguindanao has 36 municipalities.

At the assembly last Tuesday, the group has expressed plans to include “Christian settlers” under its wing, from the present Lumads, Iranuns and Maguindanaons. It will then change its name to ALIMS.