Administration presidential candidate Mar Roxas is pinning hope on grabbing the Mindanao vote after being enthroned as datu by the Royal Sultanate of Lanao.
“The incoming President of the Philippines,” was how Roxas, carrying the banner of the ruling Liberal Part in the 2016 May election, was introduced during a simple enthronement ceremony in Marawi City on January 12.
Present during the proclamation were ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman and Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr. and leaders of the Federation of the Royal Sultanate of Lanao which represents 16 royal houses of the sultanate in Lanao del Sur.
Roxas was conferred the Amai Pakpak Award named after a Maranao hero in the Moro struggle against the Spaniards during the Spanish colonization of Mindanao and presented with a plaque declaring him as an adopted son of Lanao.
Roxas, in his acceptance speech, hoped the honorary title could secure for him the Mindanao vote and boost his chances of winning the presidential race.
Despite the support of President Benigno Aquino, Roxas, former Interior secretary, has consistently tail-ended pre-poll surveys for presidential preference in the race against front runners Vice President Jejomar Binay, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Senator Grace Poe. Roxas has fared badly in surveys of the Social Weather Station (SWS) and Pulse Asia, sharing the bottom spot in nationwide and Mindanao surveys with fifth candidate Senator Miriam Santiago.
The proclamation of Roxas, however has drawn the hackles of some Muslim leaders, who tagged Roxas as “anti-Muslim.”
“This is the height of impropriety!” wailed Norodin Lucman Alonto, who sees politics in the proclamation of Roxas.
Alonto, a scholar and peacekeeper who spent years as among prime movers in the quest for peace in Mindanao, in a post in his Facebook account, said: “ I am a member of major Sultanates of Mindanao and Sulu and I am sworn to protect its dignity and honor.”