Wednesday Nov, 29 2023 10:14:25 PM

Anti and Pro-BOL bets win protracted mayoral races

NDBC BANTAY HALALAN 2023 • 11:30 AM Wed May 15, 2019
John Unson
Lawyer Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi is now duly elected Cotabato City mayor.

COTABATO CITY - A local chief executive who opposed the city’s inclusion into the Bangsamoro region has won the May 13 mayoral race but an outspoken counterpart in Basilan was not as lucky.

Mayor-elect Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi was first elected vice mayor here during the May 2016 polls and assumed as mayor after his older brother, Japal Guiani, Jr., died from an illness few weeks later.

The firebrand Guiani-Sayadi, a lawyer, defeated an influential opponent, the now third-termer Maguindanao Rep. Sandra Sema, who is identified with both the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

They both repeatedly hogged the news early on for their opposing stances on the Bangsamoro Organic Law, or BOL, that paved the way for the replacement of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao with an MILF-led Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Guiani-Sayadi, who became mayor in 2016 by rule of succession, spoke against the inclusion of Cotabato City into the BARMM during a campaign period that preceded the January 21, 2019 plebiscite for BOL’s ratification.

Sema, one of the authors of BOL, also known as the Republic Act 11054, campaigned extensively for the ratification of the measure.

The BOL was premised on two peace compacts between Malacañang and the MILF --- the 2012 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro and, subsequently, the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro.

Cotabato City, originally under Region 12, eventually became a component area of BARMM after local residents voted in favor of BOL during the January 21 plebiscite held simultaneously in ARMM’s five provinces that now comprise the fledgling Bangsamoro region.

Guiani-Sayadi has a pending legal protest on the outcome of the exercise on grounds of violence, intimidation of voters and fraud.

Sema said on Wednesday that she has accepted the result of the elections in Cotabato City.

“The elections are over. We congratulate the winners. We may now move on and secure the peace now in our homeland,” Sema said.

Guiani-Sayadi told reporters after her proclamation by the poll body on Tuesday night that she would focus on more peace and development programs meant to improve the lives of the Muslim, Christians and Lumad communities in Cotabato City.

Besides Guiani-Sayadi, the vice mayor of Isabela City, Cherry Akbar, also stood toughly against the BOL, whose ratification via a plebiscite her rival in Monday’s mayoral race there, Sitti Djalia Turabin Hataman, campaigned for extensively.

Akbar succeeded in convincing her constituents to vote against the inclusion of Isabela City into BARMM during the January 21 plebiscite. Isabela City remained under Administrative Region 9.

Akbar, one of three widows of former Basilan Congressman Wahab Akbar, has conceded defeat to the newcomer Hataman via a statement posted on Facebook.

In her statement, Akbar even congratulated Hataman, who is a staunch advocate of Muslim-Christian solidarity and women and children’s rights, for her election as Isabela City mayor.

“The election is over and the people have chosen. As a good leader and warrior, I accept my defeat with humility and courage," Akbar said.

Her failed bid for Isabela City’s highest elective post has cut the last straw binding the Akbar clan to Basilan’s political world.

The Akbars ruled Basilan for some 20 years until Jim Salliman, whose wife, Bai Annie, is daughter of a popular Moro peace activist, the late former Maguindanao Rep. Simeon Datumanong, was elected governor of the island province in 2016.

The reelected Salliman defeated last Monday a challenger from the Akbar family, Alfiya, daughter of erstwhile Rep. Akbar, who was killed in a bomb explosion at the Batasan Complex in Quezon City on Nov. 13, 2007.

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