Maguindanao folks to do ‘on-site’ massacre commemoration PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 23 November 2014 14:54

The two largest groups of reporters in Central Mindanao, provincial officials led by Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and representatives from the police and military will jointly commemorate today (Nov.23) the 5th anniversary of the Maguindanao Massacre.

The provincial government has organized an ecumenical prayer rite, to be officiated by Islamic clerics and Christian missionaries, at the scene of the November 23, 2009 carnage at Sitio Salman in Barangay Masalay in Ampatuan town.

Mangudadatu and Major Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, are to speak during the program.

They are both expected to talk about how the provincial peace and order council and the military are cooperating to sustain the solidarity now of Moro clans in the province, something ushered in by the massacre incident.

Officials of the Army’s 6th ID Press Corps and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Police Press Corps will join the event, also to be participated by representatives from Maguindanao’s “tri-people,” which is comprised of Moro, Christian and non-Islamic indigenous groups.

The two press organizations are Central Mindanao and ARMM’s most active blocs of “peace journalists” covering the security beats, the Mindanao peace process and the on-going socio-economic programs of international organizations helping push the diplomatic overture between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front forward.

Justice Secretary Leila Delima is expected to attend the program too, according to organizers.

Local officials and key members of the business communities in Central Mindanao are saddened by the slow litigation of the massacre case, but feels relieved somehow with the economic progress spreading around as a “providential” result of the massacre five years ago.

“These economic developments now setting in were something we didn’t expect to set in that fast,” said Bai Sandra Siang, chairperson of the influential Muslim Chamber of Kutawato, Inc.

Siang said many of their business contacts abroad got fascinated with Maguindanao’s investment potentials after the massacre occured.

“As Muslims we believe in Qad’r (destiny) that sometimes, by Allah’s design, we fall and fell great pain for us to rise as a better Muslim community next day,” said Siang.

The stigma of the 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 local residents, it was the blood of the 58 people brutally killed on Nov. 23, 2009 at Barangay Masalay that caused the fall of the dreaded Ampatuan warrior clan, which drew power from the illiteracy and grinding poverty besetting the local communities while at the helm of the provincial government.

According to traders and peace activists, it was the politically-motivated massacre that fanned the curiosity of foreign investors on what opportunities the province can offer that many of them eventually came to put up vast Cavendish banana and oil palm plantations.

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 MILF, had earlier said  there have been dramatic improvements in Maguindanao’s security and investment climate as a result of the Mindanao peace process.

The Ampatuans were bitterly at war with the MILF to the point that they even stockpiled firearms enough to arm a brigade-size Army contingent, which they intended to use in perpetuating political power in case the national government concedes the ARMM leadership to the rebel group under a peace deal.

The present provincial governor, Mangudadatu, now in his second term as Maguindanao’s elected chief executive, has been vocal about his support to the on-going government-MILF peace overture.

The governor and his 36 constituent-mayors have even unanimously endorsed the draft Basic Bangsamoro Law, the enabling measure, which is now in Congress, for the replacement of ARMM with an MILF-led Bangsamoro political entity..

“More foreign investors will come in if the good cooperation among local governments units, the MILF and 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.