Cynthia and Djalia: they lost in the Bangsamoro plebiscite but won the mayoralty

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 15 May) – Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi and former Anak Mindanao party list Representative Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman lost in the Bangsamoro plebiscite in January but won their bid for the mayoralty in Monday’s election.

Sayadi, a mayoralty candidate, campaigned against inclusion of her city in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) while Hataman campaigned for inclusion. They both lost the campaign: Cotabato City became part of BARMM while Isabela City is out of BARMM.

Sayadi, who ran under the Nationalist Peoples’ Coalition, garnered 34,753 votes against administration bet Bai Sandra Sema (PDP), with 21,655 votes. Sema’s husband, Muslimin, former mayor of Cotabato City who ran for 1st district Representative of Maguindanao, topped the race in Cotabato Cit but lost, overall, to PDP’s Datu Roonie Sinsuat Sr.

Proclaimed winners of the May 13, 2019 elections in Cotabato City on Tuesday night are Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi (3rd from right), mayor; Graham Dumam (in red), vice mayor: and Sayadi’s nephew, Japal Guiani III, 1st councilor. Photo courtesy of Sayadi’s camp

“Yan pong mga botong iyan ang tunay na tinig ng Cotabatenos. Hindi binili. Hindi pinuwersa. Yan Po ay boto ng pagmamahal ng bawa’t mamamayan ng Cotabato City sa kanyang siyudad. Yan ay nangangahulugan ng paninindigan ng bawa’t cotabateno na mapabuti ang kinabukasan ng bawa’t Isa. Ang botong yan ay walang katumbas na salapi kaya tunay kong ipinamamalaki,” (Those votes represent the real voice of the Cotabatenos. Not bought, not forced. Those are the votes of love of the citizens for Cotabato City. Those represent the stand of every Cotabatenoe to have a better future. Those votes do not have cash equivalents that’s why I am truly proud), Sayadi said in a statement posted on her FB page.

“This victory has vindicated me from all the baseless accusations of my critics. I stood firm amidst those baseless invectives even if I was already at the lowest time of my life. I stood strong because I know my people need me more and that is the only thing that matters most,” she added.

Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi.explains her opposition to the inclusion of Cotabato City in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, during an interview shortly before the January 21, 2019 plebiscite to ratify the Organic Law for the BARMM. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

It will be Sayadi’s first term as elected mayor. She was elected Vice Mayor in 2016 but took over as mayor when her mayor-brother, third-term Guiapal Guinai Jr., passed away on September 22 that same year.

As of the 8:26 a.m. partial, unofficial results from the Commission on Elections posted by ABS-CBN’s Halalan 2019 on Wednesday, with 92 of 94 election returns or 97.87% of the votes, Sitti Djalia Hataman of the Liberal Party got 25,835 votes against the 18,084 votes of the administration’s bet, Cherrylyn Santos-Akbar.

Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman, incoming mayor of Isabela City in Basilan. Photo courtesy of Ms Hataman’s FB page

Akbar had conceded defeat on Tuesday, a move that drew immediate response from Hataman. Addressing Akbar, Hataman wrote on her Facebook page that on behalf of the people of Isabela, “I humbly accept your concession, and offer too in return, our hand in peace.”

“In an exercise of democracy, it is the people who either win or lose with the choices they make. I accepted the call to join this exercise as choice for the people, and never as an opponent to anyone. I repeatedly emphasize, it was not a race between our supporters, but a right and responsibility the people must fulfill,” she said.

In the January 21, 2019 plebiscite to ratify RA 11054, the Organic Law for the BARMM, 36,682 voted “yes” while 24,994 voted “no.” In Isabela City, 22,441 voted “no” while 19,032 voted “no.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)