MAGUINDANAO: Local officials, residents and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Wednesday welcomed the delegates of the Vice Mayors’ League of the Philippines (VMLP) in Buluan, the first Muslim town to host the league’s national assembly.
Led by VMLP national president Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso of Manila, the delegates were treated to a Moro traditional entertainment banquet known as kalilang during the opening ceremony which also featured sagayan, a war dance performed by Maguindanaoans, and singkíl, a famous dance of the Maranao people of Lake Lanao.
Buluan Vice Mayor Jhazzer Mangundadatu delivered an emotional speech before his fellow vice mayors, saying “thank you for coming, I’ve been dreaming for this event, to show that our place is not as what other people think”.
A presentation called “Maguindanao now” that tackled social and economic developments in Maguindanao including agriculture, trade, tourism, education, transparent governance and security development like settlement of rido or clan feuds was also part of the program.
Domagoso, for his part, contrasted Maguindanao to what Manila is pursuing now “Forward ever . . . Backward never!” that will benefit the Philippines as a whole.
“We don’t forget things happened in the past, but we have to move forward, dahil tayo pong halal ng bayan ay inaasahan ng ating mamamayan [because our people are relying on us as public servants],” he stressed.
Maguindanao Gov. Esmael “Toto” Mangundadatu said “the province has a unique capability that the country [Philippines] may proud of,” citing the “sweetest banana” that has gained US$20,297,585.00 in both direct and indirect exports in 2009.
“Katulad nyo, patuloy din ho tayong nangangarap ng isang lalawigang mapayapa, masagana at mas malaya [like you, we continue to dream a peaceful, prosperous and more free province],” the governor said.
MILF officials also joined the event expressing their support to a long lasting peace and development in Maguindanao, one of the core areas of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao that will be replaced by the proposed Bangsamoro political entity.
The military and police forces tighten the security in the province to prevent possible acts of the lawless elements within the convergence.
VMLP delegates will have a tour of Maguindanao, including the graveyard of November 23, 2009 Maguindanao Massacre victims.