By Ali Macabalang
MARAWI CITY – Local political analysts have predicted a tight gubernatorial race among four Maranao candidates from different professions, even as they urged resident-voters to make the difference in the 2019 elections by way of shunning vote-buying schemes that characterized political exercises in the province for decades.
Lawyer Rey Sumalipao, regional elections director in Muslim Mindanao, said Lanao del Sur has nine candidates for governor, namely: Mamintal Alonto-Adiong Jr., Guiling “Gene” Mamondiong, Basher “Mustaqbal” Manalao, Agakhan “Binladin” Sharief, Hatta Dimaporo, Ahmadjan Abdulcarim, Gani Cali Abubakar, Sultan Bob Datimbang, and Hamza Molia.
Among the nine aspirants, local poll officials considered only five as “serious” with known political clout, referring to Adiong, who is the incumbent vice governor and former three-term governor; Mamondiong, a former provincial board member and resigned director general of TESDA; Manalao, a former governor backed by a religious group; Sharief, a social network builder; and Dimaporo, son of the late influential former Governor Ali Dimaporo.
Still, local political analysts said the gubernatorial race will be tough among Adiong, a civil engineer; Mamondiong, a lawyer; Manalao, an Islamic preacher; and Sharief, a businessman.
Some Facebook pages have posted photos of the four candidates, with Mamondiong prominently shown with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and President Rodrigo Duterte raising his hands in endorsement.
The four-cornered gubernatorial race is up for decision by some 600,000 registered voters in Lanao del Sur including this war-ravaged city.
“We anticipate a tough four-cornered gubernatorial race in our province in 2019. We could only hope for voters to choose the candidate according to their qualifications and platforms of government, not for the glitters of money,” a political science professor at the Mindanao State University (MSU) here told the Bulletin.
Another MSU professor teaching Islamic studies averred that Lanao del Sur remains one of the country’s top three poorest provinces because of “bad governance spawned by leaders elected to office through vote-buying schemes.
The two Bulletin sources spoke on condition of anonymity in separate interviews by phone, saying they are related to many politicians vying for the gubernatorial post and other elective slots in the province.