AMIN congresswoman Hataman steps down from House post

Bea Cupin

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AMIN congresswoman Hataman steps down from House post
The Mindanaoan lawmaker calls on her colleagues to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law 'not a gift as a token of benevolence, but a gift we so truly deserve'

MANILA, Philippines – Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman is coming home.

In a privilege speech on Monday, October 2, Hataman, representating the party-list organization Anak Mindanao (AMIN) at the House of Representatives, announced her resignation from her seat.

“This was no easy decision, and perhaps the craziest I’ve done so far. But those who knew me, and knew my soul, have long suspected I was longing to be back home,” said Hataman, who was on her second term as a member of the House.

“Some of those who knew my decision said I can always go back, we are only required to be here on specific days. But going back does not only mean being with them physically. It also means, for me, being heard when I speak, not as a person of influence or power, but as me. It also means, being spoken to without the barrier of a title or a position, just me,” she added.

Amihilda Sangcopan, the party’s 3rd nominee, will be taking over the vacated seat. AMIN has two representatives in the House, the other one being Makmod Mending Jr.

Sangcopan was the party’s chief of staff from the 12th to 14th Congress.

Work after Marawi

Hataman was a member of the “supermajority” led by President Rodrigo Duterte’s PDP-Laban and vice chairman of the House committee on human rights.

Before she became a member of Congress, Hataman worked with communities in Muslim Mindanao. She was eventually appointed executive director of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos in 2010.

While Hataman did not say explicitly what made her decide to go back to her roots, she mentioned the ongoing Marawi siege as among the incidents that made clear “realizations” on her role in society.

“I am not from the city, but the impact of what happened brought me to so many questions and self-reflections, thoughts of where I am and where I am most needed,” she said.

“Although there are many factors coming together that led to the incident, it is a known fact that our people’s, particularly our youth’s, frustrations over the seeming loss of our struggles, the imminent failure to realize our aspirations, became a vulnerable sentiment used by these groups to their advantage,” she added.

Toward the end of May 2017, and a few days before Ramadan began, local terror groups Maute and Abu Sayyaf launched an attempt to take over the city of Marawi, which is part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Government forces were largely caught off-guard by the operation by the two groups, which have pledged loyalty to the Islamic State, an international terror group. Residents were forced to flee the city, and hundreds of thousands remain in evacuation camps in nearby towns or in the homes of relatives and friends nearby.

Fighting has lasted for over 4 months.

“As member of this House in the 16th Congress, I, along with some fellow Moro legislators, did not fail in saying this. When Marawi happened, especially when I heard how young some of the members of this group were, I can only ask myself, had I remained in the communities, as one of them, and spoke to them of peace, perhaps I could have convinced a child or two that it is possible,” said Hataman.

“We often speak of winning hearts and minds. The fight is no longer anywhere but in our very communities and homes, the hearts and minds we so desperately need to win over are not anyone else’s but the hearts and minds of our own children.” 

Work in the House

Among Hataman’s last acts as a member of the House included the co-authorship of House Bill 6475, which would create the Bangsamoro region – among the agreements in a peace deal forged between the Aquino administration and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

House members, led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, filed a version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) nearly two months after the Bangsamoro Transition Commission submitted a draft to Malacañang.

Hataman, in her speech, called on the House to fulfill the long-standing promise to turn the bill into law.

“I leave appealing to your compassion and discernment, with hope in our leaders, and faith in the President to make true his vow to pass the BBL. I appeal to you, we may be a little too late, as we all know now, but please let us not miss this opportunity, probably the last, to win back our people. As I go back, may this be a gift I can offer them from you, not a gift as a token of benevolence, but a gift we so truly deserve, not just from the House of Representatives, not just from this administration, but from the Filipino people,” she said.

Although she is part of the majority, during votes on contentious issues, Hataman did not always follow the majority vote. She was against the extension of martial law over Mindanao and the reimposition of death penalty.

Following her “no” vote on the reimposition of death penalty, Hataman was removed as chairman of the House Muslim affairs committee. (READ: Who decides who lives? Lawmakers explain death penalty votes)

Hataman also voted in favor of the Reproductive Health Law when it was taken up on 3rd and final reading by the House in 2012.

Hataman is the wife of ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman. –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.