DAVAOI CITY (MindaNews / 06 April) – At the rally of former Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. at the provincial capitol gym in Marawi City on March 31, Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Alonto Adiong, Jr., assured former Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. of a landslide victory for him and running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte in the May 9 elections. But supporters of other presidential candidates do not think a landslide win is possible.
Addressing Marcos at the jampacked 7,000-seater gym, Adiong said: “Umasa ka at ang ating bise presidente, sa darating na halalan, sigurado landslide ang ibibigay ng Lanao del Sur” (we assure you and our Vice President, in the coming election, Lanao del Sur will deliver a landslide win).
Within the Governor’s clan, however, he has relatives supporting Leni Robredo for President and Francis Pangilinan for Vice President.
Haroun Alrashid “Momoy” Alonto Lucman, Jr., cousin of Governor Adiong, leads the L4L (Lanao for Leni), a coalition of 30 organizations supporting the Robredo-Pangilinan ticket, the group that organized the LENIwanag Marawi rally on April 1, a day after Marcos’ rally.
The governor’s mother, Bedjoria Soraya Alonto Adiong, hosted breakfast for Robredo in her residence in Ditsaan-Ramain before the Vice President proceeded to Buadiposo-Buntong town and the rally in Area 6 of the transitory shelters in Barangay Sagonsongan, Marawi City.
Robredo, she said, “is like a daughter to me,” and their “long-time friendship,” which started when Robredo’s husband Jesse was Local Governments Secretary, “shall never be mixed and marred by politics.”
Soraya, who served as Governor from 2016 to 2019, said that since 2016 when Robredo became Vice President, she “would always come to me for a friendly visit” and on April 1, “she did just that, not to solicit our support for her, but to update us with her Angat Buhay programs which she started during my term as Governor of Lanao del Sur.”
From the Governor’s clan, are leaders of the resistance movement against Marcos Sr., among them Lucman’s father, Haroun Al Rashid Lucman Sr. of Bayang, Lanao del Sur, a congressman who sought the impeachment of Marcos Sr. after the Jabidah Massacre of 1968 and Abul Khayr Alonto, one of the founders of the Moro National Liberation Front.
Lucman and his brother in law Masiding Alangadi Alonto, Sr. of Ditsaan-Ramain, Lanao del Sur have been honored at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City, their names, along with at least 300 others, etched on the black granite Wall of Remembrance .
The Bantayog honors individuals “who lived and died in defiance of the repressive regime that ruled over the Philippines from 1972 to 1986,” referring to Marcos’ declaration of martial law in 1972 to his ouster in 1986. Marcos was elected President in 1965, reelected in 1969 and was supposed to end his second and last term in 1973 but declared martial law in 1972.
Lanao del Sur has a voting population of 685,643 as December 2021, according to the Commission on Elections. After Maguindanao, it is the second vote-richest province in the five-province Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Lucman said that Lanao del Sur in 2016 gave Robredo a landslide win against Marcos Jr. in the vice presidential race. “Although the playing field is much different now, at least BBM (Marcos) cannot expect landslide here. That is for sure,” he told MindaNews.
“This is not about family affiliations,” he explained. “Being anti-Marcos in our province goes right into the Marcos abuses on the Bangsamoro. Never politics. Politics is just a platform for us to express our rejection of any Marcos coming to our province,” Lucman said.
An uncle of the governor, Robert Maulana Marohombsar Alonto, said he found it ironical that the “Bagong Lipunan” anthem, which he described as a “death anthem,” was played in Marawi during Marcos’ rally when it was an anthem “played in the 1970s while (government forces) were killing Moro civilians and mujahideen alike” and “it is Moros now who are playing it while they were cheering for Marcos Junior.”
“What have you done, brethren? Your greed for power is consuming you that you have forgotten the injustice of the recent past that is yet to be rectified. What happened to you? Is power more important to you than justice for our long oppressed people?” he asked in his social media post.
“And what about you, ‘people of the Lake’? You who are sons and daughters of noble heroes and shuhada (martyrs) of the Bangsamoro struggle?,” he asked, adding, “they murdered our people – men, women and children – and now you’re cheering for the unrepentant son of the dictator who had them murdered!”
Alonto is Commissioner for Lanao del Sur of the Bangsamoro Commission for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage (BCPCH).
“No solid BBM vote”
“There cannot be a solid BBM vote,” Drieza Lininding of the Moro Consensus Group, a volunteer campaigner for Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso’s presidential bid, told MindaNews.
“That is next to impossible. Andiyan pa rin yung galit ng mga tao” (People are still angry), he said.
On August 31, 2015, a march-rally dubbed “the last stand for peace” drew one of the largest crowds in Plaza Cabili in Banggolo district here. A huge tarpaulin showed the faces of Ferdinand Marcos Senior and Junior with devil horns and the description “Berdugo ng Bangsamoro,” the former for the Jabidah Massacre and the 120,000 lives lost due to the campaign against the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the latter for the ”BBL Massacre.”
Marcos Jr., was then chair of the Senate Committee on Local Governments that deliberated on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the proposed enabling law of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro that was signed by government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2014. Marcos junked the proposed BBL and filed a substitute bill that the MILF said rendered the future autonomous region less autonomous than the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao that it sought to replace.
At the rally of Robredo on April 1, a huge tarpaulin urged the public to wake up. “Gising Moro!” (Moro wake up!) and asked “Anda so Maratabat ka?” (Where is your maratabat?), referring to the Meranaws’ deep sense of honor. Lucman told MindaNews the message was for those who intend to vote for Marcos.
Marcos’ running mate, Mayor Duterte, is the daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte who, like Marcos Sr., declared martial law during his administration. Duterte made the declaration from Moscow on Day 1 of the Marawi Siege on May 23, 2017. He sought and was granted three extensions until December 31, 2019.
Duterte claims to have Meranaw roots and has appointed several Meranaws to major government posts including the most recent, Saidamen Pangarungan, as chair of the Commission on Elections.
Duterte is stepping down on June 30, 2022 with majority of the Marawi residents who were forced to flee their homes due to the siege in 2017 still unable to return home five years later.
The long-delayed compensation bill, already passed by both houses of Congress, has been waiting for Duterte’s signature to become law. The bill was transmitted to his office on March 15 but as of April 6, there has been no announcement that he has signed it.
Cemetery for Muslims
Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, on the other hand, has endeared himself to Muslims in Mindanao and elsewhere in the country for, among others, the way he deals with Muslims in his city and for constructing a cemetery for Muslims there.
The cemetery was a campaign promise in 2019 which he fulfilled. Moreno and Muslim religious leaders inaugurated on June 7 last year the 2,400-square meter Manila Islamic Cemetery and Cultural Hall inside the Manila South Cemetery.
Moreno is the candidate of Maguindanao 2nd district Representative Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu (United Bangsamoro Justice Party) who seeks to return as Governor of Maguindanao, and his wife, Sharifa Akeel (Aksyon Demokratiko) who is running for Governor of Sultan Kudarat province. Their opponents, relatives also surnamed Mangudadatu, Bai Mariam (Nacionalista Party) and her son Datu Pax Ali (Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats), respectively, are supporting Marcos-Duterte.
Moreno’s rally here was supposed to be on March 30 but was cancelled due to differences between the campaign team in Manila and the province. The rally is expected to be held last week of April instead.
If it had not been postponed, Marawi would have had three days of rallies of presidential candidates: Moreno on Wednesday, Marcos on Thursday and Robredo on Friday. Candidates were looking at March for the rallies in the Moro areas because the month-long Ramadan was expected to begin on April 2. It started on April 3.
Lininding said he respects the governor’s pronouncement of a landslide victory for Marcos-Duterte and the other groups and parties supporting other candidates but “one thing I can say is that the election is everybody’s game.”
“We will know what the people’s judgment will be,” he said.
He told MindaNews that in the election of national posts, Lanao del Sur residents vote “according to their own personal conviction.”
In the 2016 Presidential elections, Adiong and the mayors vowed support for Roxas-Robredo. Duterte and Robredo won. Duterte did not even hold a rally in Lanao del Sur, recalled Lininding, who campaigned for Duterte but withdrew his support the following year due to his handling of the Marawi Siege.
He said support for Duterte in the province in 2016 was “volunteer-driven.”
Moreno and Mangondato
Lininding is confident “Lanao will favor Isko Moreno Domagoso.” He said his candidate is supported by most of the religious leaders in the province and by the Ummah Party Ulama Alliance for Good Governance.
But he noted that there seems to be a growing sentiment among those “ayaw ng gulo” or those who do not want to be part of family disputes over presidential choices, to vote for presidential candidate Faisal Mangondato, who hails from this province.
Mangondato, he said, may even be the strongest opponent of Moreno in Lanao del Sur. “We will deliver for Isko Moreno pero ganumpaman, nirerespeto natin yung magiging pasiya ng taongbayan” (but we respect the decision of the people).
Lininding cited as an example the voters’ support for Lanao del Sur’s Samira Gutoc, who ran for Senator in 2019. Gutoc topped the senatorial race in Lanao del Sur with 262,941 votes, more than twice the 109,477 votes for second placer Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go. Mangondato, who also ran for Senator, got 52,090 votes. Gutoc is again running for Senator under Aksyon Demokratiko, Moreno’s party. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)