By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – Outgoing Maguindanao Governor and now elected Representative Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu is seeking to forge a post-election reconciliation meeting among political clans, notably with his relatives in Sultan Kudarat province.
“This is just politics, there should be no hatred, there should be no division,” Mangudadatu said after the provincial board of canvassers (PBC) proclaimed him congressman-elect in Maguindanao’s second district.
“Discourses and issues raised during the campaign period should not be the reason for us not to unite. We should move forward for the betterment of Maguindanao,” he added.
“Both happy and sad” was Mangudadatu’s initial reaction to media queries after his proclamation Thursday here.
“Happy because I hit the victory mark, and sad because my brother did not make it,” he said, referring to Freddie Mangudadatu, Maguindanao mayors’ league president, who was outvoted by their cousin-in-law, Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu in the midterm gubernatorial race.
The outgoing governor said he will support the programs of Maguindanao’s new leadership and assured a “smooth turnover” in the provincial government.
“We all still belong to one family – Mangudadatu, there’s no reason for us to fight, elections come and go but our good relationship should stay,” Mangudadatu added.
As new House of Representative member, Mangudadatu said he will ask President Duterte to declare a “moratorium” on war in the province.
He turned emotional as he narrated how difficult life has been for the civilian residents often caught in crossfire and affected in pervasive cycle of evacuations in armed hostilities, especially the children.
“Many more children have been becoming orphans and, thus, deprived of opportunities for the future,” he said in sob.
The PBC held separate proclamations rites last Thursday for him and the incoming governor due to earlier trade of political barbs between the leaders and supporters of the two camps during the campaign period.
Mariam, outgoing mayor of Datu Abdullah Sangki town and wife of reelected Sultan Kudarat Governor Surhatro “Teng” Mangudadatu, told reporters she will also push for the reconciliation, not only among the Mangudadatus but among other reigning political families like the Midtimbangs, Masturas and Sinsuats.
The proclamation site – the Shariff Kabunsuan Cuntural Center (SKCC) inside the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) here – was the same venue where the Mangudadatus of Maguindanao and leaders of the Mastura and Sinsuat clans held a grand thanksgiving in October last year for their political alliance meant for the fielding of common gubernatorial, vice gubernatorial and congressional candidates under the PDP-Laban.
The Masturas and Sinsuats, both dominant families in the vote-richest Sultan Kudarat and Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao, bannered the ruling PDP-Laban party but supported Mariam, a Nationalista Party bet, later.