'Christian-Muslim differences' to blame for Mangudadatu loss, says Pacquiao

MANILA, Philippines – Maguindanao 2nd District Representative Zajid "Dong" Mangudadatu failed to make it to the so-called Magic 12 of the Senate, the only bet of the ruling PDP-Laban party to lose in the 2019 elections.

Why did he fail?

According to PDP-Laban campaign manager Senator Manny Pacquiao, the problem might be the perceived divide between Muslim and Christian Filippinos.

"Siguro 'yung may problema kasi tayo sa mga ganyan. Yan ang solusyonan natin, yung mind natin. 'Yung mahirap sabihin eh, yung difference ng Christian and Muslim. Dapat alisin natin 'yung pagiging ano natin, yung ganoong pag-iisip na 'Muslim kasi siya, Christian kami,'” said Pacquiao, who also hails from Mindanao, specifically being born in Bukidnon and growing up in Cotabato.

(Maybe that's the problem with us. That's what we need to solve, our mind. It's hard to say, the differences of Christians and Muslims. We should remove that mentality. 'He is Muslim, but we are Christian.')

He added: "Dapat ano din, kailangan din natin ng representatives ng Muslims sa Senado. 'Yan ang gusto kong ipaalam sa taumbayan para balanse ba (We should have representatives of Muslims in the Senate. That's what we want to tell our people, so that it's balanced.) "

The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country. A 2012 estimate by the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) estimated that there were 10.7 million Muslims, or approximately 11% of the total population Most of them live in the island region of Mindanao.

Zajid also enjoys the popularity in the region, as he is part of the Mangudadatu political dynasty. His brother Esmael Mangudadatu is governor of Maguindanao.

But this was not enough to propel him to the winner's circle. As of 2:57 pm, partial official reports placed him at 20th spot with 3,138,647 votes.

The other PDP-Laban bets who were successful in the senatorial race are President Rodrigo Duterte’s close aide Bong Go (3rd), former Philippine National Police chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa (5th), former presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino (9th), and reelectionist Senator Aquilino Pimentel III (10th). (READ: Duterte's chosen ones: Who will benefit most from the President's endorsement?)

When asked by a reporter whether Mangudadatu being a Muslim "worked against him", Pacquiao said no. He said that their campaign team might have been to blame for failing to introduce him harder to the people as compared to the other of their bets.

Ang problema dito, nagkulang sa oras para ipakilala si Dong. Si Dong Mangudadatu kasi, unlike Bato, Tolentino, kilala na 'yan eh tumakbo na sila, si Bong Go kilala ng tao pero itong si Dong hindi pa kilala. So kulang ang oras para ipakilala siya nang husto,” Pacquiao said.

(The problem here is we lacked time to introduce Dong. Dong Mangudadatu is not like Bato, Tolentino, they are already known. Bong Go is already known by the people. Dong is unknown. So we lacked time to introduce him enough.)

According to Pacquiao they were “saddened” by their one loss, but joked that Mangudadatu could be appointed later on into the Duterte government. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.