Press Release
February 15, 2010


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. today opposed the reported moves by the authorities to replace Bai Nariman Ambolodto as officer-in-charge or acting governor of Maguindanao despite observations that she is doing well in her job.

Pimentel said law and order and the political situation have stabilized in Maguindanao since Ambolodto took over the helm of the provincial government following the suspension of Gov. Andal Ampatuan, Sr. for alleged involvement in the massacre of more than 60 innocent civilians on Nov. 23, 2009.

"The problem is that there are powerful interests that are maneuvering to have Ambolodto replaced as acting governor. This, I believe, is a step in the wrong direction and it will be generally frowned upon by the people of Maguindanao after significant gains were made in reforming governance in the troubled province since her takeover," he said.

The senator from Mindanao said it would be better to allow Ambolodto to keep her post until June 30 when the newly-elected governor will assume office.

Ambolodto has the distinction of being the first woman governor of Maguindanao. She was elected in 2007 as the number one board member in the defunct Shariff Kabunsuan province and she is currently the board member representing Maguindanao's first district.

With the support of civil society and religious groups, she was designated OIC-governor by acting Governor Ansaruddin Adiong of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao on Dec. 16.

Pimentel said Ambolodto is the ideal person to lead Maguindanao during this critical period, noting that she does not belong to, and she is not identified with any traditional political clans in Maguindanao. She is actively involved in a non-government organization engaged in community development.

Ambolodto purposely did not run for any post in the current local elections to be able to concentrate on her tasks as temporary governor of Maguindanao.

According to media reports, a committee headed by ARMM Interior Secretary Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman has been screening nominees for OIC governor and 10 vacant provincial board seats in Maguindanao.

Pimentel warned that if Ambolodto is replaced as acting governor, this will instantly spark suspicion that there are political motives behind it which may again fuel political tension in the province.

He stressed that the authorities should be very cautious in changing the political leadership in Maguindanao because it is a very sensitive issue in view of the need to dismantle political warlordism and the infrastructure of electoral fraud in the province.

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