By Ali G. Macabalang and MB Online
COTABATO CITY – Lawyer Simeon Datumanong passed away Tuesday night due to cardiac arrest, mourning kin disclosed.
Engr. Zamsamin Ampatuan, mayor of Raja Buayan, Maguindanao, said the 81-year old Datumanong was pronounced dead at 9:25 p.m. Tuesday at the Philippine Heart Center where he had been confined for two weeks.
“I am deeply sad to inform one and all. I just had a talk with Ate Sigrid (Datumanong’s wife) that our beloved Simeon Ampatuan Datumanong had rested in peace (in hospital),” Mayor Ampatuan said on his Facebook post yesterday.
Relatives will bury the remains of Datumanong according to Islamic rites in his hometown of Maganoy (now Shariff Aguak) in Maguindanao , said Ampatuan, a nephew of the deceased.
“We will miss him so much as an epitome of good leadership, calm simple and effective. For me, he is an elder who is my idol. Kaka Sim, May Allah bless your soul,” the Raja Buayan mayor said.
Born on June 17, 1935, Datumanong served as governor of the undivided Cotabato province, Congressman and House Deputy Speaker, secretary of justice and public works departments, chief executive of the Central Mindanao autonomous region, and first elected governor of Maguindanao.
Datumanong finished elementary as the class valedictorian at Cotabato Central School here in 1949. He was the first honorable mention when he finished his high school studies at Cotabato High School in this city also. He took up law study at the University of the Philippines and was admitted to the Bar in 1959.
He is survived by his wife Hadja Mariam Sigrid De Guzman, with whom he had four children. One of his daughters is married to now Basilan Governor Jim Hataman Saliman.
News about Datumanong’s demise went viral in the social media, drawing expressions of sympathy and grief as well as prayers from more than a thousand nitizens in less than an hour.
Top officials in the Muslim, Christian and lumad sectors including Governors Esmael Mangudadatu of Maguindanao, Soraya Alonto-Adiong of Lanao del Sur, Saliman of Basilan, Rashidin Matba of Tawi-Tawi, Sakur Tan II of Sulu, and Mujiv Hataman of the Muslim Mindanao region, among others, conveyed condolences to the bereaved family.
Radio reports said President Duterte, who had worked with Datumanong in Congress, and rank and file workers of the Justice and Public Works departments, also mourned the demise of the “Muslim Filipino statesman.”
Senator Sonny Angara and Rajah Buayan Mayor Zamzamin Ampatuan has expressed their condolences on the passing of their former colleague.
“Rest in peace former Deputy Speaker and cabinet sec Simeon Datumanong. A respected former colleague from the ARMM,” Sen. Angara said in a tweet.
Ampatuan, on the other hand, described Datumanong as “an epitome of good leadership, calm simple and effective.”
Under the Arroyo administration, Datumanong was appointed as the Department of Public Works and Highways secretary.
After his term as DPWH secretary ended, he was then named as Justice secretary on January 2003. His term ended on December of the same year.
Before he retired from politics, he also served as Maguindanao 2nd Disctric representative.