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INQUIRER MINDANAO

Peace dawns as 2 clans sign pact

/ 08:27 PM June 09, 2012

MUJIV Hataman affixes his signature on the pact. JULIE ALIPALA

ISABELA CITY—It was a scene that would be remembered long after the ink has dried on a peace pact between two families that had been engaged in one of Mindanao’s most violent clan wars.

Mujiv Hataman, acting governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), was visibly holding back his tears. Jum Jainuddin Akbar, governor of Basilan, was smiling calmly.

The two signed a peace pact last June 5 in ceremonies that could mean more to those who were not there—families at war with each other for decades in Mindanao.

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“I will not allow my children to inherit the kind of politics that we have here in Basilan,” Hataman said after signing the pact with Mrs. Akbar in front of a crowd of at least 4,000 who stood in silence as Hataman and Mrs. Akbar signed the pact and burst into applause after the signing was over.

The rift between the Hataman and Akbar families worsened when then Basilan Rep. Wahab Akbar, the husband of the Basilan governor, was killed in an explosion at  Batasang Pambansa in November 2007. The Akbar family had pinned the blame on Hataman.

Long, lost son

Hataman, with sons Amin and Iman seated behind him, declared the evil ways of Basilan politics over.

He repeatedly hugged Mrs. Akbar, evoking a telenovela scene of a mother welcoming back a long, lost son.

BASILAN Gov. Jum Jainuddin Akbar does her part in trying to usher in peace with the Hatamans. JULIE ALIPALA

Hataman said he wanted to dedicate the peace covenant to his children and the people of Basilan.

“I want to leave a good legacy for my children, a legacy they can be proud of,” Mrs. Akbar said in an interview after the ceremony.

Mrs. Akbar said the peace covenant was unexpected, but one of the best things to ever happen in Basilan.

“It was as if a big thorn was removed from my heart,” she said, visibly fighting back tears.

The day she signed the peace covenant, she said, was “the happiest of my life.”

“It was difficult to explain how I felt but all the hatred, all the fear, the doubts … they were gone from this moment,” she said.

Difficult process

Hataman admitted he initiated the reconciliation “because I don’t want the people to look at me as an official of ARMM who could not solve conflict in his own province.”

Mrs. Akbar said when Hataman relayed his desire to patch things up, Sulu

Gov. Sakur Tan and Basilan Vice Gov. Al Rasheed Sakalahul acted as emissaries.

She said it was not easy to convince members of the Akbar family but they eventually agreed to mend fences with the Hatamans.

“The initial talks were successful and it ended this way,” she said.

She said there was no precondition to the covenant and that the only thing she and Hataman agreed on was to work for a better future for Basilan.

“Today, Basilan has become whole again. The Basilan family is now complete. We now have a son,” Mrs. Akbar said.

Forget pride

Hataman said other ARMM leaders should follow suit and reconcile with their enemies but “swallow their prides” first.

“Forget about pride. If you want to have real peace and unity, you must learn to swallow your pride for your children, for your people,” he said.

Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, who witnessed the covenant signing, said the pact was a product of sincerity from both camps.

“They painstakingly underwent a process, which was not that easy,” he said.

TAGS: Clan wars, Conflict, Mindanao, Violence
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