Robin Padilla hopes to be the next Muslim in the Senate, 27 years after Rasul

BULUAN, Maguindanao (MindaNews /29 March) –The crowd at the provincial capitol grounds here on Monday afternoon had started to thin out until his name was called. 

Those under the umbrella tents from various towns of Maguindanao rushed towards the makeshift stage at the entrance of the capitol while those who left the compound came back running. They left again after his 16-minute speak-and-sing routine. 

Clearly, movie actor Robin Padilla was the star of the show in the Grand Proclamation Rally here.  He spoke minutes after Davao City Mayor and vice presidential candidate Sara Duterte did and about an hour before former senator and presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Actor Robin Padilla, candidate for senator of the PDP Laban – Cusi wing, campaigns in a rally in Buluan, Maguindanao on 28 March 2022. MindaNews photo by GREGORIO BUENO

Padilla reminded the crowd that the last time the Moro had a representative in the Senate was 27 years ago: Santanina Rasul of Sulu who served from 1987 to 1995. 

Padilla converted to Islam while he served sentence for illegal possession of firearms at the New Bilibid Prison.  He was convicted in 1994 to a maximum of eight years in jail but was granted conditional pardon by President Fidel Ramos in April 1998.

Absolute pardon 

In November 2016, President Duterte granted him absolute pardon which included restoring his civil and political rights, allowing him to freely travel abroad, and to cast his vote and be voted upon.

Padilla who filed his certificate of candidacy for Senator under PDP-Laban, President Duterte’s party, campaigned for Duterte in 2016 and for the PDP-Laban’s senatorial slate in 2019. 

Five other candidates running for senator are Muslims: Ibrahim Hussien Albani (Workers and Peasants Party), Samira Ali Gutoc (Aksyon Demokratiko), Nur-Mahal Tanglao Kiram (Independent), Marieta Nor-Aisha Panding Mindalano-Adam (Katipunan ng Kamalayang Kayumanggi), and Nur-ana Indanan Sahidulla (Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan). 

Actor Robin Padilla, star of the show during the Proclamation Rally in Buluan, Maguindanao on 28 March 2022. MindaNews photo by GREGORIO C. BUENO

The Pulse Asia survey of February 18 to 23 shows 47.3% of voters nationwide will vote for Padilla, placing him within the 5th to ninth rank. A voter chooses 12 senatorial candidates. 

Gutoc has a voter preference of 3.3%, placing her under the 32nd to 38th rank; 1.3% for Kiram (37-53), 1.1% for Albani (38-57), 0.8% for Sahidulla (41-64), and 0.5 for Mindalano-Adam (43-64). 

Padilla praised President Duterte for what he has done for the Bangsamoro. “Nag-iisa po ang Presidente Duterte … kaisa natin siya” (President Duterte is a class of his own … he is with us), Padilla said 

If he can help his fellow Muslims as a senator, Padilla said, “bakit hindi” (why not). 

“Pinakamaganda”

He said he is aware of the many grievances that the Moro have because of what happened in the past. 

“Alam ko marami tayong may sama ng loob, maraming nangyari noong nakalipas pero tandaan po natin, tandaan po natin, ang pinakamagandang nakuha nating agreement ay panahon ni President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. at yan ang Tripoli Agreement. Ang Tripoli Agreement, yan ang magulang, yan ang magulang ng Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao” (I know we have so many grievances because of what happened in the past but remember, remember, that the best agreement we had was during the time of President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. and that is the Tripoli Agreement. The Tripoli Agreement is the parent of the BARMM), Padilla said. 

He was referring to the the peace agreement signed by government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) on December 23, 1976 in Tripoli, Libya. 

What Padilla did not say, however, is that Marcos did not fulfill the agreement that would have set up one autonomous region. 

Exercising his martial law powers (he declared martial law in 1972), then President Marcos issued Proclamation 1628 on March 25, 1977 creating two Regional Autonomous Governments (RAGs). 

What Padilla also did not say is that the implementation of the Tripoli Agreement failed under the Marcos dictatorship and government and the MNLF had to return to the peace negotiating table after the People Power revolt in 1986.  

No peace agreement was reached under the Cory Aquino administration but under the succeeding administration under Fidel Ramos, government and the MNLF signed on September 2, 1996 the “Final Peace Agreement” that incorporated the Tripoli Agreement and other issues agreed upon by both sides during the four-year peace negotiations from 1992 to 1996. 

Padilla drew flak in July last year for his statements on the break-up between his daughter Kylie and actor Aljur Abrenica allegedly due to a third party, particularly the advice to his daughter “pag-Muslimin mo na lang si Aljur” (let Aljur convert to Islam).

According to Senate records, there have been seven Moro senators since 1916: Hadji Butu Abdul Bagui of Jolo, Sulu who served five terms (1916 to1931); Datu Sinsuat (1934 to 1935); Alauya Alonto from Ramain in what is now Lanao del Sur (1942 to 1946 and 1946 to 1949); Salipada Pendatun from Pikit in what is now North Cotabato (1946 to 1949); Domocao Alonto, son of Alauya Alonto of Ramain, Lanao del Sur (1954 to 1957; 1958 to 1961); Mamintal Tamano from Tamparan, Lanao del Sur (1970 to 1973, 1987 to 1992); and Santanina Rasul (1987 to 1995) from Siasi, Sulu. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)