By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – Muslim officials have hailed President Rodrigo Duterte’s celebration of the 121st Independence Day in Malabang, Lanao del Sur, saying the record-setting event “fleshed out” the Chief Executive’s commitment to “correct historical injustices” among the country’s minority Bangsamoro sector.
National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Secretary Saidamen Pangarugan and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Minister of Local Government Naguib Sinarimbo said Duterte’s celebration of the national event in Lanao del Sur on Wednesday was “historic and very inspiring.”
Minister Sinarimbo joined Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Alonto-Adiong Jr. in welcoming the President and his party on Wednesday in Malabang, which the President acknowledged as important part of Philippine history.
“It was here in Malabang, Lanao del Sur that then Acting President, Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos, was executed by the Japanese for refusing to cooperate with them during the invasion of the Philippines,” Duterte said in a speech, calling Santos “a true patriot even to the last moment.”
Duterte, accompanied by Secretaries Delfin Lorenza of National Defense and Eduardo Año of the Interior and Local Governments as well as National Historical Commission Chairman Vic Badoy, led the wreath-laying at the monument of Abad Santos in Malabang town.
Due to the “far-reaching significance” of Duterte’s choice of Lanao del Sue as a venue for the national celebration, Sec. Pangarungan said all NCMF regional and provincial offices organized separate gatherings of Muslims across the country to “let them feel the sense of national belonging.”
The NCMF’s main celebration was staged at Manila’s Lune Park where booths were installed to showcase various memorabilia and relics concerning Bangsamoro concerns and aspirations.
In his speech, the President urged the officials and people of BARMM to fully harness fiscal subsidies and available natural resources without the usual national government stringent interventions to cope with the development pace.
“Now that you have the BOL (Bangsamoro Organic Law ratified last year for BARMM creation). I guarantee you, exploit your resources. Madaliin na ninyo. Ang sabi ninyong Liguasan Marsh, walang makialam niyan, inyo ‘yan (no one will intervene with that, that’s yours). That was my commitment to you,” Duterte said.
Duterte also announced upon his return to office, he would ask concerned agencies to expedite processes for the release of funds intended for salaries of BARMM rank and file workers.