Human rights defender runs for Sulu Governor

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/18 October) – A human rights defender who was detained for three and a half years for a crime the court said he did not commit, is running for Governor of Sulu against reelectionist Abdusakur Tan II, son of the former governor who sent him to jail for his alleged involvement in the May 13, 2009 bombing in Patikul, Sulu that injured 12 persons including then Governor Abdusakur Tan, now vice governor.

Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie of Sulu stepped out of the Manila City Jail on July 20 this year, ending three years, six months and six days of imprisonment — in Davao City and Manila — for a crime the court said he did not commit.

“Wherefore, after an evaluation of available evidence, the Court finds the accused Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie, Juhan Albani Alihuddin and Abner Salahi Tahil NOT GUILTY of the charges filed against them on ground of insufficiency of evidence,” read the dispostive portion of the decision rendered by Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar of the Regional Trial Court of Manila-Branch 19.

The Court ruled that evidence and circumstances surrounding the case point to a concerted design to focus the prosecution on Tulawie, with the use of rehearsed witnesses to falsely testify against him for allegedly committing multiple frustrated murder and multiple attempted murder.

Temogen "Cocoy" Tulawie (R ) and Munib Estino (L), show off thier certificates of candidacy with Atty. Vidzfar Julie,Comelec Provicinal Officer. Tulawie and Estino are running for Governor and Vice Governor of Sulu, respectively. Photo from Tulawiee's FB account
Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie (R ) and Munib Estino (L), show thier certificates of candidacy during the filing of their certificates of candidacy . With them  is  Atty. Vidzfar Julie, Comelec Provicinal Officer. Tulawie and Estino are running for Governor and Vice Governor of Sulu, respectively. Photo from Tulawiee’s FB account

Tulawie, whom movie actor Robin Padilla described as “Pag-asa ng Sulu” is running for Governor under the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP).

He filed his certificate of candidacy for governor at around 9 a.m. in Sulu, along with Munib Estino, his running mate. Estino was a former vice governor of Sulu and former mayor of Panglima Estino town.

Tulawie and Estino will be facing the son and mother tandem of the Tans — Abdusakur II for a second term as Governor and his mother, Nurunisah Abubakar Tan for Vice Governor, under the Liberal Party.

Nurunisah, chair of the Sulu Provincial Women Council (SPWC) is the wife of incumbent Vice Governor Abdusakur Tan, former Governor and father of the incumbent Governor.

In his Facebook posting, Tulawie said he is running for governor to “heed the strong clamor of the people” for him to “lead the grassroots movement for new politics, good governance and total human development for Lupah Sug.”

“InshaAllah, we shall be able to seize back the power from the monopoly of one family and bring it back to where it rightly belongs — the people of Lupah Sug. Along with running mate Hji Munib Estino, let this be the first significant step for a brand new Sulu.” Tulawie said.

(Lto R): Vice Governor Abdusakur M. Tan., , Gov. Abdusakur Tna II, Hja. Nurunisah A. Tan, former Cong. Munir Arbison, Cong. Habib Tupay Loong, Cong. Maryam Arbison. Photo from the FB account of the Province of Sulu.
(Lto R): Vice Governor Abdusakur M. Tan,, his son Abdusakur Tan II,  the governor of Sulu; his wife Hja. Nurunisah A. Tan; former Rep. Munir Arbison, Rep.. Habib Tupay Loong, Rep. Maryam Arbison. Photo from the FB account of the Province of Sulu.

The Tan patriarch served as councilor of Jolo, Sulu from 1981 to 1987; served as Representative of the 1st district of Sulu from 1987 to 1992; Governor of Sulu from 1996 to 2001 and 2007 to 2013; was elected vice governor in 2013; and last week filed his COC for Governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), against reelectionist Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Liberal Party.

Tulawie said his platform of government will focus on ensuring basic services like education, water and electricity are provided. “Ang dilim ng Sula at ang dumi ng tubig. (Sulu is so dark and the water is dirty),” Tulawie said.

Peace and order will also be a priority “and we will promote reconciliation among the feuding clans,” Tulawie told MindaNews.

He said they will also work for an investment climate that would allow businesses to thrive in a fair competition.

At the time he was accused of the crime in 2009, Tulawie was a member of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society and Bawgbug where he documented cases of human rights violations in the province of Sulu.

He was also a member of the Council of Elders of the Concerned Citizens of Sulu and was vocal against the declaration of a state of emergency in Sulu following the September 20, 2009 bombing on Eid’l Fitr. He also opposed then Governor Tan’s creation of a Civilian Emergency Force (CEF) which he said was a “private army.”

The Supreme Court, in a decision promulgated on July 3, 2012, ruled that Tan “exceeded his authority when he declared a state of emergency and called upon the Armed Forces, the police, and his own Civilian Emergency Force,” as the calling-out powers contemplated under the Constitution is “exclusive to the President.”

The Supreme Court, also said that the Constitution “does not authorize the organization of private armed groups similar to the CEF convened by the respondent Governor.”

Tulawie was arrested in Davao City late evening of January 13, 2012 while awaiting transfer of his case hearings from Sulu “to any court as this Court may deem convenient.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)