By ALI G. MACABALANG
COTABATO CITY – President Rody Duterte has named another Muslim lawyer to serve as pioneer secretary of the newly-established Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), ostensibly bolstering his administration’s byword about a need for correcting “historical injustices” among Muslim Filipinos.
Lawyer Abdullah “Dabs” Mama-o received a warm welcome from supporters, friends and relatives on March 10 at the POEA building along EDSA corner Ortega Avenue in Mandaluyong City – the seat of the DMW main office, said Dr. Dimapuno “Jun” Alonto-Datu Ramos, a staunch fan of the appointee.
Mama-o is outgoing Presidential Adviser on OFW Concerns and Muslim Affairs, a designation Mr. Duterte made in his first days as elected President in 2016. The two were classmates at the San Beda Law School, it was learned.
“Secretary Dabs worked for many years as a litigation lawyer, and was active in election law before he left the country. He was recognized by the BARMM-BTA for his exemplary work concerning OFWs in the Middle East, and for his Islamic diplomacy when representing the Philippines,” Datu Ramos said.
Datu Ramos is the Bureau of External Affairs Director of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF). He earlier heralded the elevation of NCMF Secretary Saidamen Pangarungan to the chairmanship of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Pangarungan, also a Maranao lawyer, succeeded Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas, the first Muslim (Maguindanaon) professional chief of the poll body, who retired last month. His NCMF post would be formally taken over by another Maranao lawyer, Guiling “Gene” Mamondiong, the outgoing administrator of Local Water Utilities Administration.
Mama-o, Pangarungan and Mamondiong are among 15 Maranao personalities appointed en masse by the President on March 7 to various government agencies and entities.
On Mama-o’s appointment, Director Datu Ramos wrote a brief post in the social media, citing the appointee’s career history and integrity.
“Since his appointment (in the Duterte) Cabinet, he has proven that a leader’s value is seen in actions and not just in words or promises. His reputation is untarnished by corruption, even during his years as an ARMM Assemblyman,” added Datu Ramos.
Sec. Mama-o has earned citations for his “dedication to mending gaps between the Philippine National Government and the Muslim Filipinos, particularly as an emissary of President Duterte to the different Moro leaders,” he added.
“The trust and confidence that the President had bestowed upon him was never abused, and through (his) sincere words, an additional bridge was built which helped cement the approval of the Bangsamoro Organic Law,” averred Datu Ramos.
He said Mama-o had also brokered many talks with the governments of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE, the Overseas Filipino community in the Middle East, and the Philippine government regarding issues among the parties.
Such issues included the deployment ban imposed by the President, and the complaints of abuse against Filipino workers by their foreign employers.
“One thing that is close to Secretary Mama-o’s heart (is) the OFWs and their families, their plight while away from the country, especially since he had personally experienced similar situations while working abroad,” Datu Ramos said.
He also cited Mama-o’s exploits in helping abate tensions in the Middle East, representing President Duterte before Iraqi and Iranian leaders, as well as his intervention in rescuing three kidnapped Filipinos in Libya back in 2018.
Mama-o “took it upon himself to guarantee that no Filipino would be harmed in case war breaks out in the Middle East, a mission he took to heart upon the instructions of PRRD,’ the avid fan added. (AGM)