Isko Moreno

Toto Mangudadatu supports Isko Moreno’s party, 4 family members join

Pia Ranada
Toto Mangudadatu supports Isko Moreno’s party, 4  family members join

SHIFT. Toto Mangudadatu has joined Aksyon Demokratiko.

LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

(2nd UPDATE) Maguindanao Representative Toto Mangudadatu backs Isko Moreno's Aksyon Demokratiko

A prominent member of the powerful Mangudadatu clan of Maguindanao , on Friday, October 1, declared support for Aksyon Demokratiko, a party now led by Manila Mayor Isko Moreno.

Maguindanao 2nd District Representative Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, who is a member of President Rodrigo Duterte’s party PDP-Laban, said he would be supporting Aksyon as he joined the oath-taking of new Aksyon members on Friday.

Ernest Ramel, Aksyon chairman, issued an erratum to Rappler on Saturday, October 2, saying the list of politicians who took their oath mistakenly included Toto. We have corrected the article to include this update. 

“The first thing that reached us is that he will be part of the oath-taking. He even raised his hand but only to signify his alliance to Aksyon, as he (Toto) told me this morning when I called him,” Ramel told Rappler. 

The list Moreno’s campaign team sent media on Friday, which included Toto’s name, “was not updated,” said Ramel.

Toto was joined by four other members of their clan, who took their oaths as members, according to a list provided by Aksyon. Ernest Ramel, Aksyon chairman, clarified that the Bai Mariam Mangudadatu they had earlier listed as a new member of the party is not the same person running for governor but her namesake. She is a Mangudadatu relative running for councilor.

The four members of the Mangudadatu clan are: Maguindanao Board Member King Mangudadatu, Maguindanao Board Member candidate Yshmael Powa “Tisoy” Mangudadatu, candidate for councilor Bai Mariam Mangudadatu, and Sharifa Akeel Mangudadatu, Toto’s wife who is running for Sultan Kudarat governor.

Toto recently joined the political party of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the United Bangsamoro Justice Party. He said he still has to consult with UBJP officials if he can join a national party like Aksyon.

Shift in allegiances

Representative Mangudadatu’s support for Moreno is a significant development, given his influence over a Mindanao province with a population of 1.3 million as of the 2020 census.

The congressman was Maguindanao governor from 2010 to 2019 and is now seeking the same post after his time in the House of Representatives.

The Mangudadatus, however, are bitterly divided, with many of them running against each other in the 2022 polls.

Moreno sorely needs help from Mindanao politicians to make headway against rivals for the presidency who hail from the region, like Senator Manny Pacquiao. Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, who has said she is not running for president but continues to top pre-electoral surveys, is a favorite of the region to win the top post.

Toto’s gubernatorial bid is supported by Bangsamoro Interim Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim.

In 2018, Mangudadatu was among the Maguindanao politicians who joined Duterte’s PDP-Laban. In the 2019 elections, his brother Zajid Mangudadatu, was included in the party’s senatorial slate but lost his bid. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.