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Feb 09th
Home Columns Amina Rasul Deliverance in Maguindanao from “Ama” to “Ina”
Deliverance in Maguindanao from “Ama” to “Ina” PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - Amina Rasul
Written by Amina Rasul   
Sunday, 10 January 2010 19:04


T he Philippine Government responds decisively to the November 23 mass murder of unarmed women, media persons and lawyers by declaring a state of emergency over Cotabato City and the provinces of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat. Later, the entire province of Maguindanao was placed under martial law.

After three days martial law was withdrawn but the state of emergency was restored.

Government paramilitary forces in Maguindanao have been disarmed and demobilized. Regional, provincial and municipal government officials together with paramilitary CAFGU and CVO personnel suspected of complicity in either mass murder and/or rebellion have been seized, detained and indicted.

The trial of Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan, Jr., the prime suspect in the mass murder of 57 innocent civilians, including 30 journalists, has started. The wheels of justice are moving, amidst speculations that justice will be derailed by politics. Mayor Ampatuan, Jr. pled “Not guilty.”

Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera is focused on the road ahead, strewn with political landmines. The Department of Justice (DOJ) will present an eyewitness on January 13 in
Camp Crame, site of the next bail hearing of Datu Unsay, whose municipality was named after him. An eyewitness and a photographer who had taken the first footage of the crime scene will be presented.

In the meantime, what is going on in Maguindanao?

Placing the entire
province of Maguindanao under martial law for a short period was discerned by many leaders in Cotabato City and Maguindanao, including Archbishop Quevedo, as a necessary surgical initiative to reestablish the rule of law in the province by strengthening institutions through good, accountable and responsive governance. Notwithstanding the state of martial law, the Philippine Government did not place local governance under military control indicative of the sense to leave civil governance to civilian authorities. National Government filled up the vacuum in the leadership and administration of the provincial government by appointing Nariman Ambolodto as acting governor.


Reestablishing Law and Order

T he task of Governor Ambolodto, given the six months that she will be governing Maguindanao, will be to ensure that the authority, personnel and funds of the provincial, municipal and barangay governments are mobilized for the general welfare of people of the province.

The fact that entire line of officials holding the provincial elective positions in Maguindanao are all officers-in-charge, therefore temporary, they do not have the security of tenure for the term that ends on
June 30, 2010. There are only six months remaining of the current term of elective officials, and five months to the elections. The care-taker officials of Maguindanao should not only be able to provide public services, help ensure the conduct of honest, orderly and peaceful elections but should also not further deepen the social divide that has been inflicted on the province of Maguindanao. A tall order.

Can Nariman “Ina” Ambolodto govern? “Ina” means “mother” in Maguindanao. Interestingly, the unseated Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. was called “Ama” or “father” even by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.


Nariman 'Ina' Ambolodto knows what to do and has the political will to do the job. A neophyte politician with an MA in Islamic Studies, she can help facilitate the re-institution of a responsive, efficient and accountable provincial government and the promotion of public order, safety and the rule of law in the province of Maguindanao.

I have had the opportunity to interact with OIC Governor Ina Ambolodto twice in the last two weeks.

She joined our discussions on December 30 at the roundtable organized by the Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy and on January 8 at the roundtable organized by the Institute for Autonomy and Governance where she presented her short-term plan for governance of Maguindanao.

"Ina," at first glance, is a shy and gentle lady. This impression belies the steel that enabled her to run and win elections in her home province and her commitment to good governance. She stresses the need for the Commission on Audit to go through the books of Maguindanao ASAP.


Will the Regional and National Governments Support OIC Governor "Ina"?

A former vice mayor and presiding officer of the Sangguniang Bayan of
Northern Kabuntalan, she garnered the largest number of votes as Board member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the nullified Shariff Kabunsuan Province. She was elected Vice President for Mindanao of the Provincial Board Members’ League of the Philippines.

In July 2008, the Supreme Court ruled in
SEMA vs. COMELEC, GR Nos. 177597 and 178628, that the creation of the province was a nullity. It also upheld the validity of the district upon which Ina Ambolodto was voted for, elected and proclaimed as the board member who garnered the highest number of votes.

The Regional Government later issued appointments for OIC Board members, including "Ina" Ambolodto.

Board member Ambolodto took her oath of office and joined the Sangguniang Panlalawigan representing the very district that voted for and elected her as board member.

Clearly, "Ina" knows what to do and has the political will to do the job. A neophyte politician with an MA in Islamic Studies, she can help facilitate the re-institution of a responsive, efficient and accountable provincial government and the promotion of public order, safety and the rule of law in the
province of Maguindanao.

The question on top of my mind: Will the regional government and the national government support her?

No matter how well-intentioned or how committed "Ina" is, she can only be as effective as Malacañang wants her to be. Will the Palace give Ina as much rope so she can harness the carabao to farm Maguindanao lands? Or enough rope to hang herself with?

I am encouraged by whispers from Maguindanao. They say that perhaps the Almighty has intervened and delivered them from “Ama” to “Ina.”

E ditor’s Note: Ms. Amina Rasul is the Lead Convenor of the Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy (PCID) and Trustee, Magbassa Kita Foundation, Inc. Readers may send their comments to # # #

Last Updated on Monday, 11 January 2010 10:22

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