Progress overtakes sad massacre experience PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 12 November 2014 14:14

The stigma of the “Maguindanao Massacre” still hound the province but the continuing improvements in the local business climate, a seeming providential aftermath of the carnage, keep pouring out as an easy cure.

For residents of the province, it was the blood, sweat and tears of the 58 people brutally killed on Nov. 23, 2009 at Barangay Masalay in Ampatuan town that caused the fall of dreaded warrior clans, which drew power from the illiteracy and grinding poverty in the local communities and ruled with absolute intolerance for political opposition.

Local officials said the politically-motivated massacre fanned the curiosity and inquisitions of foreign investors on what opportunities the province can offer and many of them eventually came to put up vast Cavendish banana and oil palm plantations in potential agricultural sites.

Maguindanao’s Muslim, Christian and lumad sectors will celebrate the fused 41st Charter Day of the province and the 5th anniversary of the Maguindanao Massacre from November 21 to 23, to be capped off with events meant to show how the local folks are bouncing back from secessionist conflicts and the country’s worst election-related violence ever.

Major Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, Chief Supt. Noel Delos Reyes, director of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) police, and Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu on Tuesday started coordinating security preparations for the twin events, to be attended by national dignitaries.

“This year’s celebration of the founding anniversary of the province and the commemoration of the 5th year of the massacre will be made unique with our `thanksgiving activities’ to show how the business atmosphere in Maguindanao improved in the past four years,” Mangudadatu said.

Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of 6th ID, said soldiers will secure the surroundings of the provincial capital Buluan town in the second district of the province where thousands of Mangudadatu’s scholars will converge as part of the three-day festivity.

Mangudadatu said his office will release during the provincial anniversary celebration the second semester tuition stipends for each of the more than 4,000 beneficiaries of the Maguindanao Program for Educational Assistance and Community Empowerment.

“We will also disperse rubber tree and oil palm seedlings and pairs of Mallard ducks to thousands of peasants,” he said.

Malaysian Army Major Gen. Dato Abd Samad bin Hadji Yaakub, head of the International Monitoring Team (IMT), which helps enforce the ceasefire between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, said on Monday there have been dramatic improvements in Maguindanao’s security and investment climate as a result of the Mindanao peace process.

He said some of his Malaysian compatriots invited by local officials to invest in the province were briefed by the MILF on the viability of putting up agricultural projects now in Maguindanao.

Mangudadatu said so fascinated were their contacts in the business communities abroad that some of them decided to bankroll the development of what could possibly be the country’s first ever “all organic” 1,500-hectare Cavendish banana farm in the immediate periphery of Sitio Salman in Barangay Masalay, scene of the Maguindanao Massacre.

“More foreign investors will come in if the good cooperation among local governments units, the MILF, the Armed Forces of the Philippines will continue,” said Samad of IMT, which is comprised of soldiers from Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Libya, and civilian conflict resolution experts from Norway, Japan and the European Union.

Hermoso said the 6th ID will also help the Maguindanao provincial police secure the massacre site for the November 23 prayer gathering of local officials, led by Mangudadatu, and members of Central Mindanao’s media community.