First time MILF voters’ top senatorial choice: “Anak ni King”

By Carolyn O. Arguillas, MindaNews and VERA Files

DARAPANAN, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao – “Anak ni King.” “Anak ni Idol.”

Movie actor Fernando Poe, Jr. is nearly nine years dead but he is still “King” or “Idol” for members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who voted for the first time in their lives on May 13 and whose faces brightened up while saying their number one Senator was “Anak ni King” or “Anak ni Idol.”

“Anak ni King” or “Anak ni Idol” is Grace Poe, who topped the senatorial race nationwide.

“Da King” or “Idol” is a movie actor who starred in action movies as defender of the poor and the oppressed. He ran for President in the 2004 polls against then incumbent Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, filed an electoral protest alleging he was cheated by Arroyo but died on December 14 that same year.

The MILF Camp in Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat town, Maguindanao. (Toto Lozano)

Fifty-four year old Achmad, a member of the security personnel of the Office of the Chairman of the MILF said he voted for the first time in his life at the Simuay Junction Central Elementary School on Monday, May 13

Having spent most of his time as a revolutionary, Achmad didn’t bother about registering for the polls until last year’s general re-registration for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said they encouraged their members to register last year “in preparation for the plebiscite.” (see Q and A with Murad)

The MILF is faced with two electoral processes towards the establishment of the Bangsamoro, the new autonomous political entity that would replace the ARMM by June 30, 2016: the plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the election of its first set of officials by June 30, 2016.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law that the 15-member GPH-MILF Transition Commission (TransCom) is drafting, will be certified urgent by the President when it is submitted to Congress. As soon as Congress passes the law, it will be submitted to the people for ratification in the core areas of the proposed Bangsamoro.

Achmad ushered the MindaNews team into the fenced compound of the MILF Peace Panel Office within Camp Darapanan, venue of the interview appointment with the MILF chair, four days after the election.

While waiting, MindaNews asked Achmad if he voted and he said yes. “Hataman” (Mujiv Hataman, OIC ARMM Governor) for ARMM Governor. “May talo, may panalo” (some lost, some won) he said of the local officials he voted. But when asked about the Senate, his face lit up. “Siempre, ang number one, anak ni King” (Of course, number one is the King’s child).

“King?” MindaNews asked. “Anak ni Idol Fernando Poe” (child of idol Fernando Poe), a grinning Achmad replied.

But Achmad said he voted for Poe not just because she is “Anak ni King” but because “simple lang siya masyado” (she’s so simple).

Other MILF members in the compound said they were not able to vote because they were on duty in camp. But those who voted among them were consistent in their answers on their number one choice for the Senate. “Anak ni Idol” or “Anak ni King.”

(ARMM WATCH is a project of VERA Files in partnership with MindaNews and I-Watch. It is supported by The Asia Foundation and Australian Agency for International Development. VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)

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