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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The governors of Lanao del Sur and Bukidnon provinces have vowed all-out support for the presidential bid of the late dictator’s son former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., and his running mate Davao Mayor Sara Duterte.
Governors Mamintal “Bombit” Adiong Jr. of Lanao del Sur and Jose Ma. “Joe” Zubiri came out with separate pledges of support at a time when the Leni Robredo-Sara Duterte (RoSa) campaign started picking up steam in Mindanao.
Two other Mindanao governors, Suharto “Teng” Mangudadatu and his wife Marian, were sworn in as members of the Marcos-led Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) on Monday, March 28.
Teng, who was designated as PFP chairman in Central Mindanao, is the governor of Sultan Kudarat while Marian is the governor of Maguindanao.
The Marcos camp started flexing its muscles in Mindanao this week after it suffered setbacks with separate surprise declarations of support for the presidential bid of Vice President Leni Robredo in key areas in Northern Mindanao, Caraga, Western Mindanao, and even in predominantly Muslim Lanao del Sur in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
In Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental, for instance, bickering local political groups announced on separate occasions that they have decided to join the campaign to elect Robredo as president “to be on the right side of history” and as a matter of “principled choice.”
In Lanao del Sur, Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra’s brother-in-law, Vice Mayor Amenodin Sumagayan of Taraka town, announced on Sunday, March 27, that he and at least 15 mayors have agreed to join the RoSa campaign initiated by Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda, a claim frowned on by Lanao del Sur Governor Adiong.
On Tuesday, March 29, Adiong claimed that 38 of Lanao del Sur’s 39 mayors were with him in supporting the Marcos-Duterte tandem.
Adiong, chairman of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats in the province, said Marawi Mayor Gandamra was also committed to supporting Marcos.
Adiong said a Lakas-CMD resolution, signed by the mayors of Lanao del Sur, prove his claim.
“We are all together in supporting Marcos and Duterte,” Adiong said.
“We believe that with the Uniteam BBM and Sara, their administration will ensure that no Filipino from the north to the south will be left behind,” read part of the resolution.
The RoSa choice
Sumagayan, a mayoral candidate whose wife is the mayor of Taraka and the sister of Gandamra, earlier announced that Adiong gave the province’s mayors a free hand to choose their presidential bets.
“We are allies at the local level but beyond that, we respect each other’s choices. The governor respects our choice,” Sumagayan said.
Sumagayan also appealed to Lanao del Sur voters to do their reflection during the month-long Ramadan, and remember the martial law atrocities committed against Muslims.
He said voters should choose whom they think is good for the country, and not vote based on what other people want.
The Marcos and Duterte ticket is scheduled to barnstorm Lanao del Sur, and lead a campaign rally at the New Capitol Complex in Marawi City on Thursday, March 31.
Adiong said the entire provincial slate of the Lakas-CMD would come to show their support for the Marcos-Duterte tandem.
Meanwhile, Robredo is scheduled to be in Lanao del Sur, and lead a campaign rally in Marawi City on Friday, April 1, a day after the Marcos-Duterte rally. She and her ticket would be in neighboring Lanao del Norte on March 31.
Unanimous or not?
In Bukidnon, Governor Joe Zubiri also announced that he and the majority of the province’s mayors under his Bukidnon Paglaum Party (BPP) were behind the Marcos-Duterte tandem.
“I had a meeting with the mayors in the province. I asked them about who they wanted to be president… Unanimous. They were unanimously for Bongbong Marcos. So, he’s my president. I will support Bongbong Marcos,” Zubiri said.
Yet Zubiri contradicted his claim that it was a unanimous decision when he admitted that there were Bukidnon mayors who were for Robredo and another presidential candidate, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson.
“Naa uban diha dili gusto kang Bongbong Marcos. Gusto nila si Lacson, si Leni (There were others who disliked Bongbong Marcos. They wanted Lacson, and Leni),” he said.
Zubiri, whose senator son Juan Miguel or Migz is running for reelection, is a candidate for congressman in Bukidnon’s 3rd District. His other congressman-son Manuel is his bet for Bukidnon’s gubernatorial post.
At 81, Zubiri is the longest surviving head of a local political dynasty and political kingpin in Northern Mindanao.
Marcos lost the vice presidential race to Robredo in Bukidnon in 2016. Robredo garnered 211,512 votes in the province against Marcos’ 127,688.
In the same elections, Robredo also won in four Mindanao regions: Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Caraga, and the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the precursor of the BARMM. – Rappler.com
Froilan Gallardo, Grace Cantal-Albasin, and Rommel Rebollido are Mindanao-based journalists and awardees of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship