By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – At least two concerned residents and registered voters in Sultan Kudarat province have petitioned for the forfeiture of the position title of their elected governor due to his transfer of residence and voter’s registration in Maguindanao, a separate province where he allegedly engages in enormous government cum political activities.
Mastura M. Usman and Nhoraidha P. Ebus, residents and registered voters of President Quirino, Sultan Kudarat, through legal counsels, have lodged “Quo Warranto and/or Petition to declare Suharto ‘Teng’ Mangudadatu to have forfeited his position title as governor” after transferring his residence and voter registration in Datu Abdullah Sangki town in Maguindanao in September last year.
Their 28-page petition was filed last March 24 before the Commission on Election (Comelec), which the petitioners and their lawyers said has the “exclusive original jurisdiction over all contests relating, returns and qualifications of elective (provincial, city and other local) officials.”
The petitioners are represented by lawyers Israelito Torreon, Yasser Lumbos and Rex Dumlao Batay-an from three renowned local law offices in Mindanao, as shown in a copy of the petition sent to some media entities including the Philippine Muslim Today newspaper.
Majority resident voters had elected Mangudadatu interchangeably as Congressman or governor for more or less two decades in Sultan Kudarat province. His latest gubernatorial election was on May 13, 2019.
In their accompanying affidavits, petitioning electors Usman and Ebus contended that in all elections of respondent Mangudadatu, the eligibility and main qualification were his being a resident and registered voter in Sultan Kudarat.
The respondent “lost” the eligibility and qualification as elected Sultan Kudarat official after he transferred residence and voter’s registry in 2021 from Barangay Kalawag II, Isulan, Sultan Kudarat to Barangay Talisawa, Datu Abdullah Sangki in Maguindanao province, the petition citing pertinent laws and jurisprudence said.
The petitioners appended in their petition photo copies of Comelec certifications dated in August and September 2021 confirming the transfer of residence and voter’s registration of respondent Mangudadatu.
The documentary appendices also included photos reportedly taken in January, February and March this year, showing the respondent and his wife, reelection-seeking Maguindanao Gov. Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu leading official activities in various towns under the latter’s jurisdiction.
The petitioners stressed that after his Comelec-sanctioned residential transfer, the respondent has been represented in official activities and social functions by his son, Datu Pax Ali Mangudadatu, the incumbent elected mayor of Datu Abdullah Sangki, Maguindanao now running for governor in Sultan Kudarat.
They expressed confusion over what they claimed as usurping representations by both the son and the father, saying both elected officials should have officially resigned their elective posts first.
It may be recalled that last January, the Comelec 1st Division led by now retired Commissioner Rowena Guanzon cancelled the gubernatorial bid of the mayor due to lack of legal residency and other basic requirements. But the decision, prompted by a petition of former beauty queen-turned-gubernatorial candidate in Sultan Kudarat Sharifa Akeel, has been appealed for review before the Comelec en banc, the mayor said via social media.
Interviewed over the phone last Saturday night, Akeel’s husband, Maguindanao Rep. Esmael “Toto” Manguidadatu hinted his support in both petitions against Gov. Mangudadatu and nephew Datu Ali Pax, his estranged cousin and nephew, respectively, because such legal questions ought to be resolved by higher authorities to straighten public administrations in Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao provinces.
“We want to see the rule of law being upheld in both provinces, and help prove that Bangsamoro people are as good as other exemplary Filipinos in maintaining local governance,” Rep. Mangudadatu told the Philippine Muslim Today news in the vernacular.
The representations of the father and son under legal question were involving disbursements of public funds, and accountability should be ascertained, the lawmaker said.
In their 28-page petition, voters Usman and Ebus seek clarification by the Comelec on the legal personality of Sultan Kudarat Gov. Mangudadatu, with prayer for a removal of his official post as governor after his transfer of residence and voter’s registration in Maguindanao. (AGM)