By Ali G. Macabalang
Residents here have acquired a new municipal hall and four brand new patrol vehicles alongside freshly completed infrastructure projects they regard as “added assets” to their swift process of overcoming the adverse impacts of the 2000 “all-out war” on this town and its constituents.
The “added assets” were funded from the 2019 countryside development fund of then Maguindanao 1st District Rep. Bai Sandra Sema – a fact prompting residents led by Mayor Mohammad “Kits” Guro to invite the former lawmaker as guest of honor in the inaugural opening of the P20-million new town hall last Feb. 15.
Mayor Guro also tendered thanksgiving rites for former Rep. Sema to officially turn over to the town government the four patrol vehicles and an ambulance unit.
Leaders and residents also praised Bai Sandra for having funded the construction of a village hall, a gymnasium, a road round-ball landscape, road widening works, and a Level II waterworks system.
The thanksgiving rites were modest but have turned pompous with the presence of Police Gen. Walfredo Pornillos, representing Regional Police Director Gen. Samuel Rodrigues, 5th Marine Battalion chief Lt. Col. Tino Maslan, and Mayors Cahar Ibay of Parang and Abolais Manalao of Buldon. Mayor Raida Maglangit of adjacent Kapatagan town in Lanao del Sur was also in attendance, residents said.
Bai Racma Amboldto, former wife of Matanos ex-Mayor Nasser Imam, attended the event and expressed gratitude to architecture and construction workers for patterning the modern town hall to the design of the US White House-like “People’s Palace,” referring to the Cotabato City hall built under the administration of former Mayor Muslimin Sema, Bai Sandra’s husband.
With their acquisition of the government hall, support vehicles and vital infrastructure projects, Mayor Guro said, this town has substantially recovered from the adversities of the 2000 “all-out war” of the Estrada administration and will continue to advance in local government strides.
Matanog forms a large part of Camp Abubakar, the erstwhile main enclave of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) overran by soldiers after weeks of ground and aerial offensives ordered by ten President Joseph Estrada.
Six years after the grim event, Matanog has gradually moved on to become a consistent awardee of national, regional and provincial Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) and Children-Friendly Local Government Award (CFLGA) programs since 2016.
The nightmares of the 2000 “all-out war” posed a challenge for the people of Matanog to stand up in cohesion, said Mayor Guro, who believes in the popular saying that “in any problem lies an opportunity for the better.” AGM