Neophyte bloc to rebuild Maluso via good governance PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 02 March 2016 11:17

An emerging bloc of young Muslim leaders will venture into local governance to “rebuild” a historic Basilan seaside town from devastations wrought by domestic drug problems that had earned for the area the tag narcotics capital of the island province.

The troubled municipality Maluso, one of the six pioneer towns in Basilan created in the 1970s by then President Ferdinand Marcos following the change of what was before an island city to a six-town province, also has high prevalence of clan wars involving families keeping firearms both as status symbol and as protection from adversarial groups.

Security officials said Maluso is comparable with Jolo, capital town of Sulu, in terms of circulation of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) by peddlers with links to armed lawless groups (ALGs).

There are drug peddlers in Maluso and in Jolo operating even in the immediate surroundings of Islamic worship sites, according to sources from the Philippine National Police.

A neophyte reformist political group, comprised of Muslims and Christians led by mayoral candidate Hanie Bud, former manager of the Regional Ports Management Authority in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), even made “rebuild Maluso” a campaign pitch to convince local folks to help Maluso rise again as a peaceful settlement like it used to be, where Muslims and Christian had co-existed as neighbors in the past.

Bud’s running mate, vice-mayoral candidate Omar Aron, had served as mayor of the same town during the time of President Corazon Aquino.

Bud is contesting the reelection bid of Maluso Mayor Indanan Daud.

Muslim and Christian religious leaders in Maluso have long been complaining of the town’s being a major transshipment point for shabu in Basilan.

The drug trafficking activities there had virtually eroded the image of the municipality from a historic seaside enclave that rose after World War II, where big logging companies had offshore log ponds from where marine vessels loaded timbers that were shipped to Manila and abroad from the 1950s until the late 1960s.

It was the logging operations then in the town that ushered in the influx of Christian settlers who established villages in the surroundings of Maluso.

Maluso has 20 barangays, where drug traffickers have been operating with impunity, according to police and military sources.

“There is a need to rebuild Maluso from the ashes of conflicts and from the damages caused by peace and order problems,” a former provincial official, who asked not to be identified for security reasons, told the daily Zamboanga Times.

Barangay officials said there is also a need for the military and police to tightly secure all voting precincts in Maluso during the actual polling day in May this year.

Barangay folks said shabu is sold like hotcakes in some areas in the town proper by peddlers residing in Port Holland, in Calle Basa, and around the public market in Maluso.

The town has 22,954 registered Muslim and Christian residents.

Supporters of Bud and Omar, among them incumbent barangay officials and local merchants, are confident the two candidates can address the domestic drug problems effectively if elected during the May 2016 elections.