The United Muslim Democrats of the Philippines (UMDP): Re-Writing Philippine Political History

By: Judge Panambulan “Bing” Mimbisa (Ret.)
Founding Secretary General of the UMDP

Now it can be told, the United Muslim Democrats of the Philippines, UMDP for brevity, is the only Muslim political party that has attained national prominence and stature for having produced two Philippine Presidents, one Vice President and one in the making and, a Speaker of the House of Representative. It has been branded the Volkswagen Party having been organized by a group of insignificant few and themselves non-political entities led by lawyer Sanchez “Ching” Ali who was the Chief Legal Officer of the defunct Ministry of Muslim Affairs. Upon his invitation, he was joined by another lawyer, Panambulan “Bing” Mimbisa, this writer who was then the Director of the National Capital Region of the Office on Muslim Affairs and thus, become the founding Chairman and founding Secretary General of this two member political party.

Losing no time, these two pioneers then started to recruit or invite new members and then came UP Professor Noshim Moma-o, political analyst at the Saudi Embassy in the Philippines, practicing lawyer UP graduate Nasser Marohomsalic, former senior board member of Lanao del Sur, Atty. Guiling “Gene” Mamondiong, Atty. Datu Mando Sinsuat Jr. legal council at the Office of Muslim Affairs and Cultural Communities, Jimmy Umag from the public labor sector, Dr. Gonaranao Mapandi a practicing physician from Marawi City and a bunch of neophytes namely; Mitoon Ibra, Gomobar Pamlian, Dick Acraman and Shariah lawyer Omar Taher.

At some later point in time, new members came as Regional Assemblyman and Mujahiden Ahmad Bayam, Datu Agar Pangandaman, Engr. Alimoden Domado, Fiscal Musib Limbao and of course and more importantly, Sultan sa Bandara-inged, Panny Pangandaman who ran for Mayor of Taguig under the flag of Lakas NUCD-UMDP.

It is of course a matter of political history that in the 1992 national elections, then candidate Fidel V. Ramos for the Presidency entered into a political coalition with the NUCD of Senators Raul Manglapus and Manny Manahan and the UMDP of Ambassador Sanchez Ali thus giving birth to the Lakas NUCD-UMDP which became the most powerful and most dominant party of the decade form 1998 2010. President Ramos became the 12th President of the Philippine Republic and with his election, congressman Jose C. de Venecia was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives, Lawyer and UMDP Chairman Sanchez Ali was appointed Philippine Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman and later to the Arab Republic of Egypt, Atty. Nasser Marohomsalic was later appointed Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights, former board member Gene Mamondiong a given an undersecretary position in the Department of transportation and Communication and this writer as Board member of the land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.

In the elections of 2004, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo won the presidency under the same political party, Lakas NUCD-UMDP but this time in partnership with KAMPI the party of the new president. This political alliance was actually forged in a meeting held at the College Assurance Plan Building at Makati upon the invitation of senator Raul Manglapus with the Vice President personally attending and the leaders of the UMDP led by Ambassador Sanchez Ali. In that meeting, aside from agreeing on the political party under which then Vice President Arroyo will seek the presidency, she offered the UMDPs one position in the Office of the President and one position in the Department of Social Welfare and Development which she heads as Cabinet Secretary. Ambassador Ali was to be appointed in the Office of the Vice President and this writer to DSWD. For one reason or another, this opportunity was not availed of by the UMDPs.

Again, history tells us that in said elections the UMDP has elected into the office its second President in Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. In the coming national elections of 2022, the party is poised to elect its possible second Vice President in Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio no longer under the same political, Lakas NUCD-UMDP but under its new and shortened name, Lakas CMD or Lakas Christian Muslim Democrats. This change is to the credit of former President Arroyo, who during her incumbency decided to modify and shorten the name of the party into the present Lakas CMD and installed an entirely new set of officers. This overhaul of the party has resulted in the abolition of some positions earlier held by members of the UMDP and the removal from office of the rest of them.

The founding fathers of the UMDP have no remorse nor misgivings in their not having been given positions in the party hierarchy. However, as the ones who hold the franchise for the use of the name Muslim Democrats they are saddened by the shabby and unprofessional treatment they have been given by the current and previous leadership of the party, since the name had evolved to the present Lakas CMD.

The founding fathers of the UMDP have spent their precious time and hard earned resources to give this party the recognition and respect that it so richly deserves in the course of time thus, when its present officials and those that came before them took over the helm of leadership of this party, it has already grown into a respectable player in the political playing field, Ambassador Ching Ali the founding Chairman of the UMDP has always cautioned politicians against using their powers to trample upon the rights of others not knowing that this is the same precept that could be used against him or his own political party. He would always say, “power is perception, its none use is its best use”. This has little sense or none at all in the case of the Christian Democrats of Germany but for the Muslims, this means the world to them because what they sow and plant are the only ones they can harvest. They have no shoulder to cry on or back to lean on. Their only refuge is the party, the Lakas CMD. It is their hope that this party which they have created, nourished and built into the power house that it is now will find reason to give shelter to the founding fathers of the UMDP and cloth them with comfort and a share of the responsibility to keep the party on its feet.

We have not banished unto oblivion. We are here, vibrant, ready and eager to go into the arena for political gladiators. We have so much to give for the glory of the party even bigger perhaps than what you think of. And when these elections are over, you will not see us queuing up for alms or pity because this is not our kind. We help without conditions because this is our own party and we sink and swim in it.

Our wish to be given just recognition is born of our desire to show to all and sundry that the Muslim democrats are not figments of the imagination. We are real. We are here and we are the original UMDPs. (PMT)

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