February 13, 2019 at 12:50 am
"The mayor has documents and photos to prove it."
Cotabato City is close to my heart. This was where I got my feet wet in journalism. I volunteered to help with the Oblate mission’s weekly newspaper, The Mindanao Cross, together with my best friend Rudy Tupas. Rudy and I were co-editors of The Guidon, Ateneo’s college newspaper. He was editor-in-chief while I was associate editor and columnist.
In Cotabato City, I covered every beat there was to write about—the governor’s and mayor’s offices, the treasurer’s, the police, business and even the Chinese and Muslim communities. Would you believe I even covered the city and provincial jail?
It was also in Cotabato where I first met my wife. It was where we were wed in 1955.
It is for these reasons that I am very much interested in any news related to Cotabato City. Thus, when the Bangsamoro Organic Law plebiscite came to pass and it was revealed that the city had opted to be included in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, I was dismayed.
I relied on the fact that Mayor Cynthia Guiani Sayadi had earlier said the city would vote “No.” I said, thank heavens that Cotabato City has a female mayor with balls.
Days before the plebiscite, she was already complaining that armed members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front had infiltrated the city, telling people to vote “yes.” I said to myself, the military, the Commission on Elections and the Department of Education would not allow this to happen. But I was wrong, my gulay!
Thus, when Mayor Sayadi told reporters what had happened, that some 20,000 MILF members (how did they do it with the military, Comelec and DepEd around?) ensured the victory of the “Yes” votes, I definitely could believe her.
According to reports, Sayadi has documents and photos that even the teachers were replaced by people who didn’t even live in the city. I said to myself that the inclusion of Cotabato City as part of the BARMM would make that progressive city a ghost town. Christians would be leaving it, as many of them have already done for many years. That was when kidnapping for ransom became the norm there.
Why is the MILF so interested to make Cotabato City part of the BARMM? They want to make it the capital of the region, it being as progressive compared to other areas.
Cotabato City ranks as the 14th most competitive city in the country, first in Region XII, and fourth in Mindanao.
But it is rather strange for Cotabato to vote “yes.” In fact, it voted twice against joining the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Under the BARMM, Cotabato City will have to leave Region XII.
Sayadi said her documents and phots would show that the MILF resorted to violence and intimidation. She said the Duterte administration allowed the MILF to do its worst in Cotabato City.
Sayadi said she would file a case before the Supreme Court disqualifying Cotabato City from the BARMM.
If the Supreme Court decides favorably on her request, will that nullify the plebiscite in Cotabato itself? The fact that the Supreme Court did not issue a temporary restraining order before the BOL plebiscite even with two petitions questioning it may indicate that it is inclined to dismiss any other petitions as well.
There is also the fact that any court ruling on the BOL is already after the fact that the people had already ratified it.
* * *
What bothers me is the fact that after the Senate had conducted an investigation into the responsibility, accountability and culpability of former President Benigno Aquino III for the massacre of 44 members of the Special Action Force in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, there have been no charges filed against him.
The families of the SAF 44 have not yet been given the justice they deserve. Monetary aid has not also been given. This is double injustice.
Now the Duterte administration is going against BS Aquino, his Budget Chief Florencio Abad and his Health Secretary Janet Garin for that multi-billion-peso Dengvaxia scandal for the death of so many children.
If Aquino et al are being made to answer for the Dengvaxia mess, they may as well be made to answer for the Mamasapano massacre.
For one thing, it was Aquino who gave the go-signal to then-PNP Chief Alan Purisima to have the SAF issue a warrant of arrest to two terrorists—one foreigner, one Filipino. Aquino knew everything that was happening because he was then in Zamboanga with then-Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.
Despite calls for reinforcements to help the beseiged SAF members, Aquino, as commander in chief, did not issue it. Doesn’t that count as treason—not allowing the military to help the SAF? That was a really dark page in history.
* * *
There must be something wrong somewhere with the order of President Duterte for members of the Cabinet not to campaign for or endorse any candidates. Has he not been relentlessly endorsing his favorites?
I have covered 10 presidents since the 1950s. I have never seen a chief executive so interested in having his minions win seats in the Senate. It’s like Duterte himself is running!
I admit there is no law preventing the President from endorsing his minions. Still, what he is doing raises suspicions that government resources are being used to favor his friends.
In some instances, President Duterte has even threatened local governments that if they don’t support his candidates, “Bahala na kayo.”
What do you call a president who has no qualms openly campaigning for his bets?
* * *
I am saddened by the death of our good friend, Armida Siguion Reyna. She and her husband, lawyer Leonardo, were regulars at the 365 Club.
We at the Club will miss Tita
Midz. But that’s how it is. Didn’t Shakespeare say all the world’s a stage, and we are all merely players with our exits and entrances?