ZAMBOANGA CITY: Ompia, one of the biggest and most influential political parties in southern Philippines, has adopted and endorsed Sulu Vice Gov. Sakur Tan as its official candidate for governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in the May 9 elections.
Founded by former ARMM Gov. Mahid Mutilan, the Ompia Party is now headed by its president, Aleem Abdullah Abubakar.
Abubakar and other Ompia officials proclaimed and endorsed Tan – a member of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) of President Benigno Aquino III – during a recent assembly held at the Mindanao State University, in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.
The video of the proclamation went viral on social media, including ARMM Watch – a Facebook forum used by Muslims in the autonomous region – which drew praises and accolades for Ompia.
Ompia has tens of thousands of members and supporters in the Muslim autonomous region.
Tan, a philanthropist and a respected Muslim leader, thanked Ompia for throwing its full support behind his candidacy.
Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong is also supporting Tan’s candidacy.
The other ARMM governors – Nurbert Sahali, of Tawi-Tawi, Jum Akbar (Basilan), and Esmael Mangudadatu (Maguindanao) – have pledged their all-out support for Tan’s candidacy.
Sahali and his mayors also promised victory for Tan – a longtime political ally – after his recent visit in Tawi-Tawi.
In Basilan, Akbar, whose clan has close ties with Tan, said they are with him all the way, and so were the other municipal mayors in the province.
Various civil society groups and religious leaders are also supporting Tan, who is running against incumbent Gov. Mujiv Hataman, also an LP member.
In the 2013 elections, Ompia endorsed Hataman, but withdrew its total support for a still unknown reason and rallied behind Tan instead.
At least five influential sultans in Sulu – Ibrahim Bahjin, Muizuddin Jainal Bahjin, Muedzul-Lail Tan Kiram, Mohammad Venizar Julkarnain Jainal Abirin, and Phugdalun Kiram – also threw their support to Tan.
Tan was a key figure in the unification of the sultans, who all signed a covenant of unity in Zamboanga City on April 9. Tan commissioned many respected Muslim scholars, historians and educators from the University of the Philippines, led by Dean Julkipli Wadi, to help in crafting the unity covenant.
Mehol Sadain, who previously heads the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, was also among those who helped Tan in this historic endeavor.
The sultans also thanked Tan for his efforts in unifying the Royal Houses of the Sultanate of Sulu.
Tan is strongly advocating the revival of the Sultanate of Sulu and promoting the rich and colorful tradition of the Tausug people. AL JACINTO