ZAMBOANGA CITY: One of the biggest and most influential political parties in the Southern Philippines – Ompia – endorsed Sulu Vice Gov. Sakur Tan as its official candidate for governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Ompia was founded by former ARMM Gov. Mahid Mutilan which 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 – during a recent assembly held at the Mindanao State University in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur.
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 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, of Basilan; and Esmael Mangudadatu of Maguindanao – also pledged their all-out support to 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 support for still unknown reasons, and rallied behind Tan.
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 headed 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 Sultanate of Sulu and promoting the rich and colorful tradition of the Tausug people.