BY ESPERIDION TAGABUNLANG
MAGUINDANAO Governor Esmael Mangudadatu and First District Rep. Bai Sandra Sema are combining forces for their re-election bids in the May elections next year.
Mangudadatu confirmed this during the mass oath-taking of 26 Maguindanao municipal mayors under the administration’s Liberal Party on September 10 in his hometown Buluan, the seat of the provincial capitol.
Sema was not present during the gathering but Mangudadatu said that he is set to meet her and her husband Cotabato City Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema on September 16 on the political coalition.
Both Mangudadatu and Sema are first-termers.
Mangudadatu’s brother, Pandag mayor Sajid Mangudadatu, is running for congressman in the province’s Second District, which will be vacated by Rep. Simeon Datumanong, who ends his third and last term while the governor’s running mate will be Mayor Lester Sinsuat of Datu Odin Sinsuat town.
The oathtaking of 26 of 36 Maguindao’s mayors came barely a month before the filing of Certificate of Candidacy on October 1 to 5.
Mangudadatu will slug it out against former political ally Mayor Hadji Tucao Mastura of Sultan Kudarat town.
Mastura, who was designated in 2010 by the LP’s national directorate as provincial party chairman for Maguindanao, and Mangudadatu were allies in the last local elections.
The incumbent Maguindanao vice governor, Dustin Mastura, who was Mangudadatu’s running mate in 2010, is Mayor Mastura’s nephew.
Former Senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr., an LP stalwart, who administered the mass oathtaking, declared that Mangudadatu and those who pledged allegiance to the party are LP’s official candidates in next year’s elections in the province.
The Masturas have already reportedly rescinded their memberships with LP even before the oath-taking rites in Buluan.
Vice Gov. Mastura and his mayor-uncle, along with their supporters, from across the province, are to pledge loyalty to the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, or PDP-LABAN anytime this month.
Talks have been circulating that political lieutenants of Vice President Jejomar Binay have been convincing the Masturas and their supporters to join PDP-LABAN as early as July.