Maguindanao LGUs rely on diplomacy to strengthen governance PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 06 August 2016 11:58

There are two municipal governments in Maguindanao province that are now actively involving security stakeholders and former drug offenders in governance and peace-building activities.

Maryjoy Estephanie Uy-Midtimbang, mayor of Datu Anggal, barangay officials, villagers, soldiers and policemen launched on Thursday another cross-section sanitation drive to foster cooperation in maintaining law and order in the municipality.

Midtimbang, elected to a first term only last May 9, is also presiding chairperson of the Datu Anggal municipal peace and order council, whose members include all of the town’s seven barangay chairmen.

Thursday’s clean-up drive in Datu Anggal also involved personnel and officers of the municipal police and Army mechanized units based in the area.

The activity was meant to propagate camaraderie among local security stakeholders, including sympathizers and members of Moro secessionist groups and reformed drug offenders, to hasten the municipal government’s law enforcement activities in support of President Rodrigo Duterte’s security thrusts in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

In the nearby municipality of Shariff Aguak, also in the second district of Maguindanao, former drug dependents and peddlers are busy planting forest trees in open fields and along rivers as part of a comprehensive program meant to reintegrate them into the social mainstream.

Drug offenders who had surrendered to Shariff Aguak Mayor Datu Marop Ampatuan and his father, Datu Akmad, the incumbent vice-mayor, have also been visible in basketball courts the past three weeks, undergoing detoxification through sports and other strenuous exercises.

Ampatuan said their LGU is trying to reform them with the help of clerics providing lectures on why drugs are “haram” (forbidden) to Muslims.

Members of the business community in Shariff Aguak said “bullies” hooked to shabu have finally stopped mulcting money from them as a result of the iron-fisted policy of the mayor and vice-mayor in addressing the problem.

“You can go around and ask their victims and all of them will say no one dares to ask money from them now,” said Ampatuan.

Ampatuan and his father were elected to office as running mates only last May 9 too.

Among their most recent accomplishments is their having stopped the wanton conduct of illegal checkpoints by uniformed but fake operatives of the Land Transportation Office along a national highway northeast of Shariff Aguak.

Past Shariff Aguak municipal officials have failed to address the problem squarely due to lack of political will.

Businessmen transporting merchandise from outside of Maguindanao to Cotabato City, the political seat of ARMM, and vice-versa have suffered from the excessive extortion activities of the bogus LTO personnel using fake seizure and citation tickets.

“We talked to them peacefully to do their illegal activities somewhere else. So they stopped, of course after having been warned of getting penalized the very hard way if they do not agree,” Ampatuan said.

There were mysterious disappearances of suspected drug traffickers in Shariff Aguak last July after defying appeals by the local police and the LGU to surrender and start life anew.

“Our LGU is spending money for reformatory programs and this early we can proudly say we are succeeding,” Ampatuan said.