Sultan Kudarat

Kiss and make up? Liza Marcos meets with Mangudadatus, Sinsuats

Rommel Rebollido

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Kiss and make up? Liza Marcos meets with Mangudadatus, Sinsuats

BAI A-LABI. Sultan Kudarat Governor Pax Ali Mangudadatu greets First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos, wearing a traditional garb, during the conferment of the title 'Bai A-Labi sa Mindanawe Darussalam' on her in Sultan Kudarat on Thursday, April 27.

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The husband of former Maguindanao governor Mariam Mangudadatu leads a group to bestow First Lady Liza Marcos a title which is the feminine equivalent of a sultan

First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos met with the governor and vice governor of the now-defunct Maguindanao province behind closed doors in Sultan Kudarat on Thursday, April 27, a meeting seen by many as a kiss-and-make-up move.

Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. accompanied the First Lady during the meeting, which included former Maguindanao governor Mariam Mangudadatu and vice governor Fatima Ainee Sinsuat. 

Mangudadatu and Sinsuat had earlier criticized President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s decision to appoint officers-in-charge for the newly created provinces of Maguindanao del Sur and Maguindanao del Norte, short of calling him ignorant of the law and easily misled by his advisers.

Mangudadatu rejected her appointment as OIC governor of Maguindanao del Sur, while Sinsuat also questioned the legality of her appointment as OIC vice governor of Maguindanao del Norte, asserting that a 2021 law mandates her to serve as the new province’s governor. 

Ms. Marcos’ husband appointed former Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) senior minister Abdulraof Macacua as Maguindanao del Norte’s OIC governor, a move that did not sit well with the Mangudadatus and Sinsuats.

Mangudadatu did not hide her frustrations earlier. In a video, she said she and her group were among the first to support Marcos’ successful presidential bid in 2022, yet his administration let them down.

Macacua, former chief of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s armed wing, is one of the most trusted men of BARMM interim Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim who supported the presidential bid of one of Marcos’ election opponents, former vice president Leni Robredo.

Marcos’ decision to extend the term of Ebrahim as the special Muslim-majority region’s chief minister last year was seen as a move that frustrated an alleged plan by the Mangudadatus to expand their political dynasty to other BARMM areas. Mangudadatu’s husband Suharto had reportedly positioned himself to replace Ebrahim as BARMM’S chief minister.

Maguindanao del Sur provincial administrator Cyrus Torreña said there was “nothing clear yet” about what transpired during the closed-door meeting. 

Details of the Thursday meeting were not disclosed to the public, but whatever transpired behind the closed doors apparently appeased the local politicians. Malacañang has scheduled an oath-taking ceremony for officials of the two Maguindanao provinces on Friday afternoon, April 28.

The closed-door meeting in Sultan Kudarat included politicians affiliated with the local political group Family Alliance, composed of the Mangudadatus, Sinsuats, Masturas, and Paglases. 

CLOSED DOOR. First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos in a closed door meeting with the Mangudadatus along with other local political leaders who are part of the Family Alliance, a group consisting of known political families in Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao provinces. – Maguindanao del Sur provincial government

Photos circulated on social media showed Mariam, her son Sultan Kudarat Governor Pax Ali Mangudadatu, Cotabato City Representative Dimple Mastura, Maguindanao del Sur Representative Tong Paglas, and other local politicians with the First Lady.

At the Sultan Kudarat Gymnasium in Isulan, the capital town of Sultan Kudarat, an organization of royal families led by Mariam’s husband, former Sultan Kudarat governor Suharto Mangudadatu, honored the First Lady. 

As part of the ceremony, Marcos was bestowed with the title “Bai A-Labi sa Mindanawe Darussalam,” which, culturally, represents a woman of great importance and is the feminine equivalent of a sultan. The title was conferred during the same ceremony where new sultans were enthroned to replace those who had passed away.

Suharto said the colorful traditional ceremony was a “successful enthronement” initiated by the Confederation of Royal Sultanates of Mindanao, a group formed in 2017 by his father Sultan Pax Mangudadatu, a former governor of Sultan Kudarat. 

He said the confederation, which consisted of different sultanates and royal houses in Mindanao, bestowed the title of “Bai A-Labi” upon the First Lady “due to her love and empathy towards our fellow Muslims.”

While she was in Isulan, Ms. Marcos also inaugurated a new dialysis center at the Sultan Kudarat Provincial Hospital, where the Mangudadatus and Marcoses donated several dialysis machines. 

The First Lady was also conferred an honorary doctorate in philosophy (honoris causa) by Sultan Kudarat State University. –

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