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Mastura thinks he’ll beat Mangudadatu

Karlos Manlupig

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Mastura says the 'show of force' last Saturday means he will beat the incumbent governor

'SHOW OF FORCE.' Tucao Mastura says he's confident he will beat Gov Toto Mangudadatu in May. Photo by Karlos Manlupig 

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines – Maguindanao gubernatorial candidate Datu Tucao Mastura said that the huge number of people who participated in a weekend rally calling for the finalization of the Bangsamoro peace agreement indicates he cannot lose in the 2013 elections – unless cheated.

At least 300,000 residents from various towns in the province gathered in an open field in Datu Paglas town on Saturday, April 27, to hear fiery speeches from the local candidates of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). They all called on the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to immediately sign the final peace agreement.

Mastura, the incumbent mayor of Sultan Kudarat and UNA’s gubernatorial candidate, said the gathering is a show of force to express his and his constituents’ support for the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB).  Mastura is the brother of Michael Mastura, a senior member of the MILF peace panel.  

He is running against Maguindanao Gov Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, who is the candidate of the ruling Liberal Party.

Mastura said the Saturday rally shows that if he doesn’t win in May it can only mean he was cheated. 

SURE WINNER? Mastura said if he loses in the 2013 elections, it's because he was cheated. Photo by Karlos Manlupig

Mangudadatu is unfazed.

“Of course I am not threatened,” Mangudadatu said.

Mangudadatu added that he also supports the peace talks between the government and the MILF.

NOT WORRIED. Mangudadatu says he is "not threatened" by Mastura's huge rally.Photo by Karlos Manlupig

“That is why I resisted against Andal [Ampatuan] because I want peace in Maguindanao,” Mangudadatu said.

Ampatuan, former mayor of Unsay, was Mangudadatu’s rival for the gubernatorial post in 2010. Ampatuan, his father Andal Ampatuan Sr. and brother Zaldy, are now facing murder charges for the 2009 Maguindanao massacre where 58 people died, including Mangudadatu’s wife.

Mangudadatu disclosed that he is in constant communication with the leadership of the MILF and its ground commanders.

Once a final peace deal is reached, more than 10 million Muslims will benefit from it, Mangudadatu said.

No endorsement  

The MILF reiterated that it was not endorsing Mastura for the 2013 elections even as the group’s representatives showed up in Mastura’s rally. 

Tomanda Antok, vice-chancellor for Academic Affairs of the Mindanao State University-Maguindanao and member of the MILF’s advocacy team, confirmed that scores of MILF members attended the Saturday rally.

“I am here to represent the advocacy team of the MILF. We were requested to explain the peace agreement if possible on all occasions,” Antok said.

Antok clarified that the MILF is not endorsing Mastura. 

Muhammad Ameen, chair of the MILF secretariat, earlier said the MILF has a “hands-off” policy on the elections. “The MILF will not anoint any candidate,” Ameen said.

Ameen also clarified that MILF members who claim to be supporting candidates in May are “speaking for themselves and they do not carry the blessing” of the rebel group. He added that the MILF leadership would not stop its members from voting.

The MILF said it is also willing to attend Mangudadatu’s political rallies to educate the people about the ongoing peace process.

“So far there has been no invitation from Mangudadatu,” Antok said. –


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