Cotabato City

Misuari group mobilizes, organizes own party ahead of BARMM elections

Ferdinandh Cabrera

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Misuari group mobilizes, organizes own party ahead of BARMM elections

ORGANIZE. Leaders of Mahardika Party, a group identified with MNLF founder Nur Misuari, gather after filing a petition for accredition before the Comelec in Cotabato City on Monday, June 24, 2024.

Ferdinandh Cabrera/Rappler

The group, Mahardika Party, submits a petition for accreditation, with a manifestation to join the first BARMM elections, before the Comelec in Cotabato City

COTABATO, Philippines – The children of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari have started mobilizing their father’s followers and organizing their own political party in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BARMM) ahead of the region’s first parliamentary elections in 2025.

The group, called Mahardika Party, submitted on Monday, June 24, a petition for accreditation as a political party, with a manifestation to join the first BARMM parliamentary elections, before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) office in Cotabato City.

The same day, hundreds gathered in a Cotabato mall to undergo orientation as recruits to the new political party of the Misuaris.

This came weeks after the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan convicted Misuari of graft related to P77 million worth of ghost projects in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) when he was the governor of the now-defunct Muslim-majority region. He was found guilty of two counts of graft but was acquitted of two counts of malversation. 

Misuari has also been charged with rebellion and crimes against humanity for his alleged involvement in the 2013 Zamboanga siege, which resulted in the deaths of more than 200 people.

The new party is headed by the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) members Abdulkarim and Nurredha Misuari, children of the MNLF founder, and at least five other members of the interim regional parliament.

Abdulkarim said Mahardika, which means “great creation,” is rooted in the causes and aspirations of his father when he founded the MNLF and led the Muslim Filipino struggle for self-determination starting during the first Marcos administration.

“This will be our political vehicle for continuing our struggle, now focused on political governance. We want to be part of this unfolding history, from the start of our struggle to achieving peace,” Abdulkarim said.

He said the new party would help in building and sustaining peace, healing the wounds of war, promoting compassionate governance, fostering conscientious development, focusing on youth development, and ensuring that no Bangsamoro will be left behind.

Abdulkarim said Mahardika is open to forming a coalition with other political groups in the BARMM.

The group is widely seen to be inclined to join the BARMM Grand Coalition (BGC), an alliance of political groups led by governors from various provinces opposing the ruling Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its political party, the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP).

On one hand, the BGC is led by former Sultan Kudarat governor Suharto Mangudadatu, his wife Maguindanao del Sur Governor Mariam Mangudadatu, Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan, Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr., and Basilan Representative Mujiv Hataman.

On the other hand, UBJP has the support of Tawi-Tawi Governor Mang Sali, Basilan Governor Jim Salliman, Maguindanao del Norte Governor Abdulraof Macacua, and Cotabato City Mayor Bruce Matabalao.

During the BGC launch in Sulu, Nurredha mingled with Tan and other coalition leaders, though Mahardika leaders pointed out that it should not be seen as official support.

“We are voting for the party and district representatives. The elected parties and district representatives will vote for the Chief Minister. So, our effort now is to convince people to register and vote on election day,” said Nurredha. – Rappler.com

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