All set for Maguindanao’s 45th founding anniversary

Published November 18, 2018, 2:57 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Ali Macabalang

BULUAN, Maguindanao – Major roads and strategic spots in this bustling town have been spruced up since last week with flyers, streamers and other colorful decors for the celebration of the 45th foundation anniversary on Nov. 22.

(Province of Maguindanao facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)
(Province of Maguindanao facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

Host officials on Sunday said they were as opting for “simple, but meaningful” commemorative events since the anniversary day proper falls on the eve of emotion-packed events for the ninth year of reckoning of the killing of 58 people in the so-called “Maguindanao massacre” on Nov. 24, 2009.

Event organizers, led by Governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, have lined up activities meant to “touch lives” and improve the province’s socio-cultural and economic landscape, Engr. Abdulrahman Asim, provincial administrator, told the Bulletin over the phone.

From the usual inter-municipal mode for the 36 component towns, sports competitions were done in last five days only among the different divisions and departments of the provincial government, Asim said.

He said one of the celebration highlights set will be the symbolic graduation of 220 ex-combatants of the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in a series of skills trainings held lately after they laid down arms and pledged allegiance to “peaceful and productive life.”

Livelihood packages related to agriculture and vocations chosen by the ex-rebels during the trainings will be given individually on the graduation ceremony, Asim said.

He said most of other major activities will be held within the vicinity of the newly-completed modern provincial capitol building touted by residents here as the “White House” of Maguindanao. The building construction, forming part of the provincial capitol complex programmed with P500-million allocation on a 12-hectare land along the highway here began in November last year and was completed lately.

A symbolic transfer of provincial government departments from the Rajah Buayan Peace Center (RBPC) to the new building will be done on Nov. 22 in an inauguration ceremony that may possibly have the attendance of a prominent national dignitary, Asim said.

Provincial budget office chief Lynette Estandarte, focal person of the Maguindanao People’s Medical Mission, said a series of combined relief and health outreach works was conducted lately in different component towns as an added highlight in the foundation anniversary fete.

Mixed feelings

Since 2010, anniversary celebrations here have been characterized by mixed feelings among celebrants and host officials transcending from festive mode on the anniversary day proper to emotional fashion for the reckoning of the massacre of 58 people in Ampatuan town on Nov. 23, 2009.

Among the fatalities in the massacre were the wife of Gov. Mangudadatu, two sisters and many female relatives and friends including 32 media workers. The victims were in a convoy en route to Shariff Aguak town to file the official candidacy of then Buluan town Vice Mayor Mangudadato for governor in the 2010 elections when more than 100 armed men blocked their way on the highway, herded them to a secluded hilly spot and executed them.

On Sunday, media workers from other parts of the country, mostly belonging to the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUCP) visited the massacre site at sitio Masala, Barangay Salman in Ampatuan town to hold advanced reckoning as usual.

Local NUJP member Bong Sarmiento said members of their group would as usual want a separate solemn ceremony to do away with the massive presence of different people from political, police and military sectors.