SULTAN KUDARAT, Maguindanao (MindaNews / 29 January) — Presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. was the guest of honor Saturday at the 5th Kudaraten Festival in this town which houses the main camp of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). But he said nothing about the Bangsamoro peace process and how he intends to implement the other aspects of the peace agreement should be become President.
But Marcos noted in his speech that his father, Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. “was the key to peace in this part of the Philippines and Southern Mindanao.”
He thanked Datu Tucao Matura, who is running for mayor, a position he held for several terms, “dahil sa kanyang pagpapaalala sa aming lahat kung papaano nakamit ang kapayapaan dito sa Sultan Kudarat (for making us remember how peace was achieved here in Sultan Kudarat), the partnership that he enforced with the other Muslim leaders, and my father when he was President, was the key to peace in this part of the Philippines and Southern Mindanao.”
Mastura joined the uprising against the national government then under Marcos Sr., after the 1968 Jabidah Massacre, and was with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) for seven years. When he left the underground movement, Marcos Sr. appointed him town mayor, a move that Mastura said ended the armed conflict in his town.”
“Napakalaki ng utang na loob natin sa kanya, sa kanyang pamilya, sa kanyang tatay” (We owe him much, his family, his father), Mastura said.
Marcos arrived with former Ilocos Sur Governor Chavit Singson. His running mate, Mayor Sara Duterte of Davao City, was represented by his younger brother Sebastian, the incumbent vice mayor who is running for mayor, the post his sister will vacate.
Several politicians allied with the Family Alliance Party in Maguindanao were at the jampacked gymnasium of Sultan Kudarat town where the culmination of the festival was held, Marcos seated on a throne chair painted in gold.
Marcos talked about Mindanao as a “promised land.”
“Ang sinasabi ang Mindanao ay promised land ngunit nagdaan ang maraming taon ay hindi natin nakita, hindi natupad ang promised land, ang pangako ng Mindanao (It is said that Mindanao is a promised lang but several years have passed and we have not seen the fulfillment of that promise, the promise of Mindanao,” he said.
He added that through the efforts of the Family Alliance, led by incumbent governors Mariam Mangudadatu of Maguindanao and her husband, the governor of Sultan Kudarat province, Suharto ‘Teng’ Mangudadatu, there are fewer conflicts and that hopefully these efforts will fulfill the promise of Mindanao.”
Marcos also highlighted unity as key to development of the country but did not say how he would unite the country.
Citizens took to social media to air their sentiments against Marcos’ father, under whose administration martial law was declared and so many massacres involving the Moro people occurred.
They also hit Marcos the Presidential candidate for allegedly being anti-Muslim and for allegedly delaying when he was Senator, the passage in 2015 of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the enabling act of the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the peace agreement signed by the Philippine government and the MILF on March 27, 2014 under the Aquino administration.
The Organic Law for the BARMM was passed in 2018 under the Duterte administration, was ratified in January 2019 and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) inaugurated in March that same year with the 80-member MILF-led Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) serving as the interim government until June 30, 2022. The extension period has been extended until June 30, 2025 with the postponement of what was supposed to be the first regular election of BARMM officials from May 2022 to May 2025.
Marcos did not mention in his speech what he would do with the other issues in relation to the existing armed conflicts in Mindanao, on the New People’s Army and Islamic State-inspired groups like the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
Marcos is facing several disqualification cases. Last week, Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon announced that “political interference” was delaying the release of the decision of the Comelec’s First Division but revealed she had voted to disqualify Marcos citing “moral turpitude” for failing to pay his taxes in the 1980’s while he was Vice Governor. Guanzon heads the First Division.
Guanzon said on Saturday that she had given Commissioner Aimee Ferolino, the ponente of the decision, until noon on Monday to release the resolution.
Guanzon is retiring on Wednesday, February 2. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera / MindaNews)