An assemblyman in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is campaigning to change the mentality of the Meranao electorate, from looking for candidates who dole out funds to choosing the most qualified and competent men or women to represent them in Congress and other electoral bodies.
“It is my advocacy to elevate the political consciousness of the Meranao electorate, vis-a-vis qualification versus dole out, in line with what the recent incident in Marawi City had taught us,” said Assemblyman Abol Alam Padate, who represents the 2nd district of Lanao del Sur in the ARMM Regional Legislative Assembly.
“Our people are crying for someone who could bring their voice to the halls of Congress and Malacañang, and let the cry of the agonizing Meranaos be heard loud and clear,” Padate said.
“I still see hope in the Meranao electorate that this time they would prefer a qualified and competent candidate, that is a representative to both houses of Congress,” he added.
Padate spoke from experience, as he managed to win a seat on the RLA over well-financed candidates who belonged to big, well-known political clans in Lanao despite being a political neophyte.
A lawyer from a family of lawyers who admittedly did not fare well in local politics, Padate said his desire to help and serve his fellow Bangsamoro, and the belief that as a lawyer he could do something good for ARMM, pushed him to run for office.
“I thought that I might be able to contribute in bringing ashore the dreams of our fellow Bangsamoro through viable legislative options, that kept my spirit alive to continue the task,” he said.
A public prosecutor for more than nine years, Padate said the dole-out culture “became a normal practice” in Lanao del Sur.
“In fact, with all due respect, people tend to care more about how much a candidate would give in exchange for their votes, rather than qualification and platform. It became a qualification to run for a public office, to have much money, at least in my province,” he said.
While admitting he, like all candidates in Lanao, spent in the last elections, Padate said he went to all 22 towns in the province’s second district to deliver his legislative agenda if elected to the RLA.
“I talked directly to the people, especially those who are in the periphery of our society,” the assemblyman said. “I dared tread where no candidate did because I had no political party. I was an independent candidate. But, in all of my sorties, I always emphasized the necessity of having a qualified representative to the legislative assembly.”
True enough, Padate won in some of the municipalities where people never expected he would get enough votes. “I could only surmise, that being the only lawyer among the candidates, the voters changed mind, by Allah’s leave, and instead feel pity to consider my qualification,” he added.
It is the burden of young and new politicians, Padate said, “not to frustrate those who still believed that qualified candidates are better than those who offer nothing but ‘dole out’ alone.”
“I devote serious effort to fulfill my commitment and perform well as member of the ARMM-RLA,” he said.
Padate sought to introduce a new kind of leadership, to put into reality our people’s hope of having a public servant who opens his office to everyone sans any previous appointments.”
He personally answers telephone calls, text messages and messages thru Messenger and other social media apps concerning “practically everything under the sun,” he said.
Questions Padate has received include applications, legal advice, community problems, solicitations and pity community projects for mosques, madrasah, schools and sports.
“I am to talk to and treat people equally, irrespective of their status in society and religion, and above all to be a public servant who stands and speaks for the people and uphold their interest,” he said.
“This way, I might be able to change the mindset of the majority of the Meranao electorate who consider higher ‘dole out’ rather than qualification, on the belief that all candidates are just the same, such that after elections they would not care for them, so they might just as well sell their votes.”
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