EDITORIAL: Maguindanao del Norte in focus

The issues hounding the creation of two Maguindanao provinces were belatedly put to rest, and it took the Supreme Court to decide whose opinion—that of the Palace or Republic Act 11550—must prevail. This happened a day before President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. flew to the United States in what is seen by pundits as a valuable economic and defense trip.

As an icing of the event, officials of the two areas gathered and took their oath of office before the President in Malacañang.

Marcos sworn into office governor Mariam Sangki Mangudadatu, vice governor Nathaniel Sangacala Midtimbang and board members Bobby Bondula Midtimbang, Ahmil Hussein Macapendeg, Yussef Abubakar Musali Paglas, Alonto Montamal Baghulit and Taharudin Nul Mlor as the new officials of Maguindanao del Sur.

Meanwhile, governor Abdulraop Macacua, vice governor Fatima Ainee Limbona Sinsuat and provincial board members Armando Mastura, Mashur Ampatuan Biruar, Datu Rommel Seismundo Sinsuat, Alexa Ashley Tomawis, and Aldulnasser Maliga Abas were installed as the captains of the new province of Maguindanao del Norte.

The curious pledge that came out of this episode (even if there are still legal issues that deserve to be ironed out) is the presidential promise to make the new provinces the focus of development, a favorite linear statement politicians from way, way back has been mouthing seamlessly.

While the President’s assurance echoes with positivity, the problems on the ground that have stunted the growth of southern Philippines continue to hound the march of Mindanao toward eventual peace and prosperity.

These nagging issues, for generations the bane of government, include private army groups, clan revenge (rido), nepotism and corruption in governance, land-grabbing, and pervasive abuses committed on civilian population by individuals who command power, authority, and control.

Candidly, Maguindanao, even without the official partition, remains a rich territory. It is part of a sprawling region where the definition of agriculture can be fully introduced in the absence of conflict. Without the political dynasties controlling how government funds are spent, the place can compete with even the most progressive rice granaries of the country.

Maguindanao’s royal past, its culture and heritage included, needs to be reappreciated. Already battered by decades of struggle, the newly-inducted officials, as a challenge, must have the resolve to allow pro-people initiatives to prosper under their immediate care and protection.

Understandably, the provinces of Maguindanao have a ton of educated people whose love for country and people is beyond reproach. Why they have failed to walk the talk in their governance is largely a product of an intense but distorted belief that controlling the people with domination can define the positive direction of a territory.

The Maguindanaons, true to their history, are a resilient nation crafted in courage, honor, and commitment. But these attributes are hardly appreciated by many of those who claim to represent the people who voted them into power. If there are reasonable and faithful public servants who believe in good authority, their decent intents are often overwhelmed by the power of numbers and the failure of some sectors to see the optimistic impact of honesty in governance.

Of course, pitfalls are part of finding the righteous path. In pursuing growth, there are dangers that lurk on the wayside. Nothing is etched in stone, it is said. So, when the Maguindanao people rise up in unison to encourage their leaders to study and appreciate their causes, the likelihood of their pleas being heard becomes more achievable.

With two sets of leaders working separately to work the cause of a progressive Maguindanao region, there is hope the place will become tomorrow’s new center of growth in central Mindanao. (PMT)


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