By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – The Philippine Senate has paid tribute to the late Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chief Abul Khayr Alonto, citing in a resolution his contributions to government peace and economic development strides in the south.
In Resolution No. 143, the Senate recognized Alonto as among the “outstanding Filipinos (known for) valuable services to the Filipino people and laudable contributions to the nation, particularly on matter relating the efforts towards the resolution of strife, festering peace, and uplifting the conditions of vulnerable Filipinos.”
The resolution was adopted on May 22, but Senate President Vicente Sotto III presented the hard copy in symbolic rite at the plenary hall to Alonto’s surviving wife, Noorulhayat, and family members on June 5, two days before relatives would mark in Marawi City and Lanao region the 40th day of the honoree’s demise.
Alonto died of lingering ailment at a hospital in Metro Manila past 10 p.m. last May 9.
READ MORE: MinDA chair Alonto passes away at 73
“Mindanao lost one of its greatest leaders when Secretary Datu Abul Khayr Alonto joined our Lord. He was 73 at the time of his passing. With great skill, capacity and leadership experience, he left the people of Mindanao with a legacy of excellent leadership for the younger leaders of his community to emulate,” the Senate resolution states.
The two-page Senate resolution cited Alonto’s various contributions in personal and official capacities for peace and community development ranging from his stint in MinDA down to his pre-Marcos Martial Law era contributions.
Upon his appointment by President Duterte as MinDA chairman on September 9, 2016, Alonto immediately embarked on various socio-economic development initiatives for southern Philippines, including a concept for the revival of the Mindanao-Malaysia barter trade, and a regional railway system, among others.
The resolution acknowledged Alonto’s efforts in forming the Lam Alif, a Muslim youth group, many members of which became core leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and in his decision to resign as elected Marawi City vice mayor to protest and fight “abuses committed during the Martial law regime.
It also mentioned Alonto’s eventual role as pioneer interim head of the regional autonomous government in Central Mindanao, where he also served as first legislative speaker and helped conceived the foundations of the succeeding Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). ARMM was replaced this year by the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Mindanao (BARMM).
The Senate likewise honored Alonto’s advocacy for a shift to federal form of government backed by his studies on federalism in Malaysia, the United States, Germany and Switzerland. It also cited Alonto’s services as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Nigeria and 21 other African countries in 1991.
Alonto’s elevation to the chairmanship of the MNLF on decision of surviving front pioneer leaders in 2014 and his support to the legislation of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, later renamed as Bangsamoro Organic Law, were likewise cited by the Senate resolution.