By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – The country’s southernmost province of Tawi-Tawi will have four candidates for governor in the May 13 midterm election, including three neophytes putting up a fight against a veteran politician bidding to reoccupy the top provincial elective post he and his family held for close to two decades.
Reports reaching here said the ruling PDP-Laban party’s choice of former three-term Governor Sadikul “Dick” Sahali as standard bearer in the gubernatorial race has prompted incumbent Tawi-Tawi Gov. Rashidin Matba to vie for the province’s lone congressional seat.
Sahali is left with three neophyte-rivals – Sahreen Alvarez (Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan), Aminsali Jumah (Partido Federal ng Pilipinas), and Yshmael Sali (National Unity Party) – to contend with.
Matba is running under the National Unity Party against incumbent Rep. Ruby Maquiso-Sahali, daughter of the returning former governor. He was elected governor in the 2016 polls, outvoting one-term Governor Nurbert Sahali, a brother of the congresswoman.
The outgoing governor is the son of the late Hajirul “Gerry” Matba, the first governor of Tawi-Tawi, the southernmost island province of the country comprising 11 municipalities with a total population of 390,715 as of 2015 census.
Tawi-Tawi was created out of the Sulu province in 1973 by late former President Marcos through Presidential Decree No. 302 reportedly as a political concession to the surrender of the late Matba as one of top commanders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Sulu archipelago.