Maguindanao execs see peaceful days ahead for Moro people

Written by John Unson, The Philippine Star .

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu see “peaceful days” ahead for Moro sectors now that four agencies helping in the southern peace process are led by officials from Mindanao.

Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno huddles with Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu at the sideline of the convention of provincial governors at the Heritage Hotel in Pasay City early this week. Courtesy of Maguindanao governor’s office

Mangudadatu was referring to Emmanuel Piñol, Ismael Sueno, physician Paulyn Ubial and lawyer Jesus Dureza whom President Rodrigo Duterte had enlisted as his agriculture, local government and health secretaries, and presidential peace adviser, respectively.

Dureza, now overseeing the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), hails from Davao City. He is a known friend of political and rebel leaders in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Sueno is from South Cotabato while Piñol and Ubial are both residents of North Cotabato. Both provinces are within the immediate periphery of Maguindanao, which covers 37 towns in two congressional districts.

“All of them also understand deeply the decades-old Moro issue and the importance of the ongoing bilateral peace initiatives of Malacañang and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),” Mangudadatu said.

The MILF has more than a dozen government-recognized enclaves, now dubbed “peace zones,” in the adjoining North and South Cotabato provinces, which are both inside Region 12 and in Maguindanao, a component area of ARMM.

Even ARMM’s newly-appointed local government secretary, lawyer Kirby Abdullah, was elated of Duterte’s having entrusted key national posts to Piñol, Sueno, Ubial and Dureza.

Abdullah, great grandson of the late Datu Udtog Matalam, post second World War governor of the now defunct Empire Cotabato Province, said he finds so “promising” Sueno’s being at the helm now of the central office of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

He said he is convinced that Sueno, as South Cotabato resident, is aware of the peculiarities of governance and politics in Moro towns.

“Moro communities have a distinct kind of politics, one so connected with traditional norms and religious practices. We are thankful to have a national DILG secretary who is from South Cotabato. We will support his stewardship of the agency,” Abdullah said.

The functions and powers of DILG were devolved to the ARMM government in the 1990s yet based on the region’s first charter, the Republic Act 6734 that got amended and became R.A. 9054 via a plebiscite in 2001.

Mangudadatu said he and the league of mayors in Maguindanao were as elated with Duterte’s having referred to Mindanao’s Moro territory as “Moro country” in his first state of the nation (SONA) address on Monday.

“That was a strong acknowledgement of our centuries-old identity as a people, distinct in cultural groupings, but one in dream --- peace and prosperity,” Mangudadatu said.

Duterte, while in Buluan, Maguindanao last July 22, said he would sustain the gains of Malacañang’s diplomatic dealings with the MILF, whose main camp is located in Sultan Kudarat municipality in the province.

Duterte had told local officials during his sortie in Buluan he would honor the government’s two peace compacts with the MILF, the Oct. 15, 2013 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro and the March 27, 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro.

“What is there to worry about? There is an assurance from a national chief executive who is from Davao City in Mindanao and who has a mix of Lumad and Maranaw bloods,” Mangudadatu said.

Duterte was in Buluan on July 22 to launch the 4.5-megawatt biomass power plant built jointly by the family of the governor and a Chinese firm, the Green Earth Enersource Corp.

While talking to local officials, Duterte ordered Piñol impromptu to provide a P300 million grant for the propagation of oil palm trees in Maguindanao, in support of Mangudadatu’s agricultural thrusts complementing the normalization agenda of the government-MILF peace overture.

The newly-established biomass power plant will operate using only wastes from oil palm trees as fuel to run its power-generating turbines.

Piñol, who accompanied Duterte to Buluan, said the grant can be released immediately after all documentary requisites had been complied with.

Source: The Philippine Star