If she wins, she may very well be the most stylish vice governor the ARMM has ever had. Unfortunately, style is not enough to win in ARMM. Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco surprised, befuddled a lot of people (including me) when she officially filed on Saturday her certificate of candidacy for vice governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Yes, Tingting Cojuangco, former Tarlac governor, socialite, philanthropist and one who was labeled in the 70’s as one of Harper Bazaar’s most beautiful women in the world, wants to be the ARMM vice governor.
Why? Because, she says, she has given her life “to the Muslims for the past 26 years.” She says she also wants to “bring about change to the ARMM by embarking on good governance, education and honesty.”
As of press time, two other candidates have filed their certificates of candidacy for ARMM vice governor – Shariffa Bago and Dimalang Manalao.
Ting ting Cojuangco will run alongside Pakung “Pax” Mangudadatu, who is gunning for the ARMM gubernatorial post. Both filed their COCs at around 3 pm. They are running under the banner of Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino – Laban Party or PDP – Laban. Together with Cojuangco at the ARMM Comelec office was her husband, former Tarlac Congressman Jose “Peping” Cojuangco.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Is Tingting Cojuangco qualified to run for ARMM vice governor?
Under Republic Act 9054, also known as the law governing ARMM, candidates for governor must be “a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter of the autonomous region, able to read and write, at least 35 years of age on the day of the election, and a resident of the autonomous region for, at least one year immediately preceding the election.”
With regard to residency, Tingting Cojuangco says that she has a house near Awang airport (a.k.a. Cotabato airport), Municipality of Datu Odin Sinsuat. The house was allegedly built in 1988.
Critics, however, insist that Cojuangco is from Tarlac and obviously Tarlac is a long way from ARMM. In fairness to Cojuangco, however, she does visit Mindanao often. I personally saw her on two occasions in Cagayan de Oro and Marawi. Do visits to Mindanao count, though? I wonder.
Allegedly (and interestingly, if I may say so), Cojuangco also filed a petition to have her voter’s registration transferred to Maguindanao last March 31, which happened to be the last day for filing such requests.
In fairness to Tingting Cojuangco, she may have good intentions for ARMM and she may have effortlessly endeared herself to our Muslim brothers and sisters (a lot even say that she is considered as the “lady with a Muslim heart”) but really, ARMM is a different story. Lord knows how many people I’ve interviewed – all claiming how easy their votes have been bought and how easy election cheating has and can be done there. Not to mention the political harassment and even threats against one’s life.
Does Tingting Cojuangco really want to go into that “abyss”? Shouldn’t she just remain apolitical and help the ARMM as a non-government official?
Plus is Tingting Cojuangco ready to face the ire of not a few Muslims? Just today, I received feedback from Muslim friends in ARMM saying that her plan to run for vice governor is a mockery, a deep insult especially to Bangsamoros!
Besides, isn’t Malacanang trying its best to defer the ARMM polls? What’s she doing filing a COC?
Remember, Tingting Cojuangco is the aunt of incumbent President Benigno S. Aquino III. And while PNoy and the rest of Malacanang’s trying to move for the postponement of the ARMM election (tentatively planned to take place on August 8, 2011) and resetting it for synchronization with the 2013 midterm polls, his very own aunt goes ahead and baffles everyone.
For now, I continue to scratch my head at the surprising, controversial yet fascinating turn of events.
By the way, just a few weeks ago, Tingting Cojuangco hit the headlines when she was allegedly fired from her job as head of the Philippine Public Safety College. Malacanang later clarified this, saying that Cojuangco voluntarily resigned from her post. Interestingly, and as if to signal her ties with the people in Muslim Mindanao, she recommended former Upi, Maguindanao Mayor Ruben Platon as her replacement.
WHAT ABOUT YOU? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON TINGTING COJUANGCO’S PLAN TO RUN FOR ARMM VICE GOVERNOR?
* photo credit: Tingting Cojuangco