North Cotabato elects first Lumad governor

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /18 May) – Three-term Representative Nancy Alaan Catamco is North Cotabato’s first Lumad Governor.

Catamco defeated veteran politician Rogelio Talino, long-time mayor of Carmen town and father of incumbent Governor Emmylou Talino-Mendoza, by a margin of 3,531 votes. She got 272,249 votes against Talino’s 268,718 votes.

Mendoza, who had served as three-term Representative of the first district of North Cotabato from 2001 to 2010 and Governor from 2010, won the post of Vice Governor with 326,718 votes 209,064 of Socrates Pinol, brother of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol.

In a statement written mostly in Cebuano and posted on her Facebook page on May 16, Catamco thanked her supporters and urged her constituents to leave partisan lines behind now that the election is over.

She vowed her leadership would ensure participatory governance.

Nancy Alaan Catamco, North Cotabato’s first Lumad governor. Photo from Nancy Catamco Supporters FB page

“Ang akong administrasyon mosubay sa mga prinsipyo sa Participatory Governance diin atong imbitahon ang tanan nga sector sa atong probinsya sa pagpartisipar sa mga proseso sa konsultasyon aron atong maangkon ang kooperasyon ug collaboration sa tanan” (My administration will follow the principles of participatory governance where all sectors in the province will be invited to participate in consultations so we can achieve everyone’s cooperation and collaboration), she said.

Addressing employees at the Provincial Capitol, she assured them she is not vindictive. “Ako mohatag kaninyo og oportunidad nga mapakita ninyo ang inyong mga abilidad walay pagduha-duha alang sa kaayohan sa katawhan nga atong gisaaran nga alagaran” (I will give you the chance to show your abilities for the sake of the people we vowed to serve), she said.

Agriculture Secretary Pinol, who served as Governor of North Cotabato from 1998 to 2007, congratulated Catamco through his Facebook page on May 14. “With a 3,000-vote lead and 2.6% of votes still to be tabulated, it is almost improbable to dislodge you from the top. Please lead our province towards an era of harmony and unity. Let us discard the politics of hatred,” he said.

Among the bills filed by Catamco in support of the Lumads (Indigenous Peoples) are the proposed creation of a Department Of Indigenous Peoples; establishment of an Indigenous Training Center in Kidapawan, North Cotabato; mandating the inclusion of Ingigenous Culture Education in the curricula of schools in all levels in the country; maximizing the contribution of Indigenous Peoples to nation-building, grant benefits and special privileges; creating barangays for Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples (ICC/IP) – all of them pending with their committees or referred to other committees.

Nancy Alaan Catamco’s campaign poster. Catamco is North Cotabato’s first Lumad governor.

She also filed a bill “extending the period for Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples to exercise the option to secure Certificates of Title to their ancestral lands under Commonwealth Act 41, as amended, or the Land Registration Act 496, amending for the purpose section 12 of Republic Act No. 8371, otherwise known as “The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act” which, according to House records, was approved by the House of Representatives on May 22, 2017 and transmitted to the Senate on May 24, 2017.

She also filed a bill “defining political dynasty and prohibiting the establishment thereof.”

Catamco is Vice Chair of the committees on Local Government, Mindanao Affairs and Sustainable Development Goals in the 17th Congress (2016-2019).

She was chair of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples Peoples in the 16th Congress (2013-2016).

Catamco figured in a controversy on July 23, 2015 when she led the police and military in efforts allegedly to “rescue” some 700 Manobos who sought refuge in the Haran compound of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines in Davao City, after fleeing their villages in the hinterands of Davao del Norte and Bukidnon to avoid getting caught in the crossfire between government forces and the New Peoples’ Army. Catamco argued the evacuees should be released, alleging they were held against their will.

Days after the failed attempt, Lumads and their support groups filed a complaint before the Ombudsman against several officials, including Catamco, for alleged usurpation of authority or official function, physical injuries inflicted in a tumultuous affray, serious physical injuries, qualified trespass to dwelling, grave threats, grave coercion, malicious mischief

The Ombudsman dismissed the complaint a year later, citing lack of evidence.

In the efforts to push the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law in 2014 and 2015 and in 2017, Catamco helped push for provisions to ensure the rights of Lumads in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao are protected.

North Cotabato Gov.Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza expresses her full support for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law in her speech during a gathering at Amas Capitol Gym, Kidapawan City on january 12, 2019. MINDANEWS PHOTO

Catamaco is the third woman-governor of North Cotabato after Rosario Diaz (1988 to 1998) and Emmylou Talino-Mendoza, from 2010 to June 30, 2019.

The 2019-2022 term will be the first time in North Cotabato history where the Governor and Vice Governor are both women.

Elected representatives of the province’s three districts are Joel Sacdalan (PDP), son of former Governor and Representative Jesus Sacdalan, for the 1st district; Makilala Mayor Rudy Caoagdan (NP) for the 2nd district while Jose Tejada (NP), who ran unopposed, earned his third term for the 3rd district.

Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph Evangelista was elected to his third term in office. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)